Skip to Main Content

Rights and obligations of roommates

Roommates are usually not covered under the residential tenancy acts of the respective provinces/territories.

Roommates are people, at least one person whom is renting the premises from the landlord. The other person may or may not be on the lease. If renters are on a tenancy agreement/lease together, they are usually referred to as co-tenants.

Most often people who end up being roommates create a roommate agreement between themselves.

Such agreements will usually cover:

  • How rent is to be split and paid to the landlord;
  • How bills will be split;
  • How the rental property will be shared;
  • When notice to move out must be given to the other roommate(s);
  • How the security deposit will be handled if one roommate leaves; and
  • How chores will be split in the rental property.

The above are only some of the terms that are added in the roommate agreement.  A lot more can be added to the agreement.

Under these agreements, roommates have rights and obligations in regards to the rental property.

How do I know if I’m a roommate or a co-tenant?

If you are unsure whether you are just a roommate or an actual co-tenant, this is very easy to determine. Are you on the tenancy agreement and share rent? Then you are a co-tenant.

You may still call each other roommates but if you share rent obligations and you are both, or all, on the lease then legally you are co-tenants.

Co-tenants have the same rights and obligations under the tenancy. They are jointly responsible for paying the full rent, deposit(s), and repairing any damage they or their guests have caused. It is up to the co-tenants to decide how to divide costs amongst themselves.

Depending on the residential tenancy act of the province/territory in which you reside, if it’s the case that you and one or more of your roommates are on the lease together, often it takes only one tenant to end the tenancy. If one or other people are on the lease with that tenant, then this likely severs tenancy for all. This means if the other co-tenants wish to continue the tenancy they will have to sign a new lease.

What are the risks of having a roommate?

If you have a roommate (and this is especially pertinent where there is no contract between you), then if the roommate ends up not paying their share of the rent, you may have to end up paying it to the landlord. In addition, you could be stuck with the rest of the lease if your roommate leaves.

If you are having issues with a roommate who is not meeting his or her obligations, you should consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Roommates, Subletting, and Assignment Alberta

Roommates BC Tenants