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Does a tenant have rights if they only rent a room?

Residential tenants in Canada are covered by the individual province or territory’s resident tenancy acts. Their rights and responsibilities are outlined within those acts.

What happens though if you are only renting a room and not an entire apartment or house?

It depends on the province or territory in which you reside and whether there is any kind of legislation for sub-letting, assignments and more. Often it also depends on whether or not the tenant shares facilities with his or her landlord.

However, in some provinces it seems that the rights of the people who rent a room are limited, especially in situations where the landlord and tenant share a living space.

Landlords and tenants who share a living space

In most provinces if a landlord and tenant share a living space, then they are not covered under the residential tenancy agreement of their province or territory.

For example, the Residential Tenancy Act of British Columbia outlines in s. 4 of the act that the act does not apply to “living accommodations in which the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner of that accommodation.”

In Ontario, the above also applies as the residential tenancy act will not apply to people who share facilities with their landlord or a close family member of the landlord.

In most provinces as well, if the facilities are used for business purposes and the tenant is a seasonal tenant, then the act will likely not apply.

However, the Residential Tenancy Act of Saskatchewan does not seem to have this limitation within the act, which means that the act could apply to tenants sharing facilities with their landlord.

Are all people renting rooms considered tenants?

While many provincial residential tenancy acts don’t apply to tenants who are sharing a living space with their landlord, the residential tenancy act also doesn’t apply to other renters, who may not even be considered tenants under the acts.

For example, under the Residential Tenancy Act of British Columbia, the act sets out people who are not covered, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Students or employees renting from an educational institution by which housing is provided;
  • People renting accommodations for traveling purposes;
  • People housed in community care, mental facilities, hospitals, etc., and more.

Though the acts in many provinces do not apply to people who share facilities with their landlord (or the landlord’s family), they are usually still considered tenants.

If there is no written agreement between the landlord and you and you are not covered under the residential tenancy act of your province or territory, you should contact a lawyer.

Read more:

Roommates, Subletting and Assignments

What tenants need to know about the law Ontario