Live-In Landlord: When You Are Roommates With Your Tenant

Landlord and tenant relationships are all about balance – the interests of the landlord and the tenant don’t always align perfectly and may even conflict at times.  Add to this the stress of living under the same roof and the delicate balance between each party can easily be tested by an awkward comment, passive aggressive action, or outright misconduct. 

Usually, the Landlord Tenant Board acts as a venue for dispute resolution in landlord tenant matters, however, when the landlord and tenant are roommates they can’t help.

What the Law Says

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, states,

  1. This Act does not apply with respect to:

(i) living accommodation whose occupant or occupants are required to share a bathroom or kitchen facility with the owner, the owner’s spouse, child or parent or the spouse’s child or parent, and where the owner, spouse, child or parent lives in the building in which the living accommodation is located;

In other words, if you share either a bathroom or kitchen with your landlord or an immediate family of the landlord, the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 do not govern your landlord tenant relationship and the Landlord Tenant Board cannot help you. 

What That Means

The tenant has no legal right to stay in the rental unit and can be evicted at any time, without notice.  The exception to that is if the tenant and landlord entered into an agreement, then the landlord goes back on the agreement by forcing the tenant to move out early or disposes of the tenant’s property or the tenant refuses to move out by the agreed upon date. In addition, any disputes between the landlord and tenant, for instance damages or overdue rent, also cannot be dealt with at the Landlord Tenant Board.

In these situations, the landlord or the tenant may sue in Small Claims Court. 

For Example

Bob owns a house with a basement unit.  The basement unit has its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom.  Bob rents it out to Amy. Bob never goes to the basement unit and Amy never goes upstairs.  Amy uses the basement entrance and therefore rarely sees Bob.

Bob also rents out the first-floor bedroom to Carl while Bob himself occupies the second-floor bedroom.  Bob and Carl share the living room and kitchen.

Both Amy and Carl are late on their rent.  What are Bob’s options?

Bob and Amy do not share any space together – so the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, applies to their landlord tenant relationship.  Bob must follow the eviction procedures set out in the Act and serve the appropriate notice.  The notice gives Amy a chance to pay rent within 14 days or risk being evicted.

Bob and Carl share living space – both the living room and the kitchen – so their landlord tenant relationship is not governed by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, which means Bob does not have to follow any procedures.  Bob can require that Carl pay within 24 hours or move out regardless if Carl thinks that’s fair.  Let’s say Carl misses this deadline and Bob changes the locks on the doors and disposes of Carl’s stuff.  Carl can sue in Small Claims Court for the damages he suffered. 

Small Claims Court is not as easy to navigate compared to the Landlord Tenant Board.  The rules and procedures are often overlooked by self-litigants who could benefit from the help of experienced legal professionals. If you find yourself in this situation, it would be best to reach out to experienced legal professionals as soon as possible for guidance.

Disclaimer: Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to replace, legal advice. Contact Chu & Huang Law to discuss a specific legal issue and please note that contacting Chu & Huang Law, on its own, does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

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