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Rights and obligations of roommates

Region: Ontario Answer # 440

The Residential Tenancies Act is the law that deals with residential landlord and tenant relationships in Ontario. This law sets out the rights and obligations that both landlords and tenants have. However, it says almost nothing about rights and obligations that roommates have toward each other. If you are having trouble with your tenant or your landlord and would like help, call a lawyer now.

The Act defines a tenant to ” include a person who pays rent in return for the right to occupy a rental unit and includes the tenant’s heirs, assigns and personal representatives…”

The Act says that landlords only have to recognize tenants that the landlord knows about and that the landlord has approved of. For example, if you live alone and have a lease with a landlord, and a friend comes to stay with you, your friend will usually only be considered a guest, not a tenant. You will still be responsible for paying all the rent to the landlord. If you leave your tenancy, your friend would have no right to stay in the apartment.

In the case of spouses (whether legally married or living common-law), it is not always clear if the spouse is considered a tenant. Although it may not matter if both spouses are registered on the lease, it is one factor which is considered. However, if the spouse pays rent, or if the spouse is the heir of a deceased tenant spouse (and continues to occupy the premise), he or she will be considered to be a tenant, and will have all the rights and obligations of a tenant.


If you and another person wish to rent an apartment as roommates, you should ensure that both of you sign the lease with the landlord. However, you should understand that if your roommate does not pay their share of the rent, you may have to pay it. Also, if your roommate leaves without giving notice, you may be responsible for the whole lease.

If your roommate leaves the apartment, you may be able to find another roommate to replace them. In order for this person to be added to the lease, you must have the landlord approve them as a tenant.

Because the law is not clear about the legal obligations of roommates, it is a good idea to be very careful about entering into such an arrangement with anyone.

Roommate Agreements

It is common for roommates to enter into a roommate agreement that outlines the terms, conditions and responsibilities agreed to by each of the residents of a rental unit. Roommate agreements are also sometimes referred to as roommate contracts.

A roommate agreement may include the following information:

  • date of agreement;
  • names of roommates;
  • address of property;
  • portion of rent to be paid by each roommate;
  • portion of utilities to be paid by each roommate;
  • house rules;
  • household duties and restrictions; and
  • particulars on how the tenancy can be terminated.

Roommates can add other terms to the agreement as long as all roommates agree on them.

For more information about tenancies in Ontario, visit the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Help for Tenants

A criminal record will affect your ability to be approved for a residential lease. To erase your criminal record, learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you are having financial problems, it may be difficult to rent an apartment or condominium. You can get help to clear your debt and repair your credit. For easy-to-understand debt solutions on your terms, contact our preferred experts 4Pillars and rebuild your financial future. With 60 locations across Canada, they will help you design a debt repayment plan and guide you with compassionate advice. No judgment. For help, visit 4Pillars or call toll-free 1-844-888-0442 .

If you are a Tenant, you can add your monthly rent payment to your credit report using FrontLobby. This can:

  • Contribute to improving your credit score (Renters have reported 33pts to 84pts jumps)
  • Help establish a positive credit history with a new rent tradeline
  • Improve your access to credit related rewards (better bank loans, credit cards, mortgage rates)

Help for Landlords & Property Managers

For legal advice and assistance with a residential tenancy and applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board, contact our preferred Landlord and Tenant experts Nicola (Nick) Giannantonio Legal Services .

If you are a Landlord or Property Manager, you can report rent payments to Credit Bureaus and screen Tenants using FrontLobby. This can:

  • Attract financially responsible applicants interested in building credit with their rent
  • Decrease rent delinquencies (Landlords have reported 92% reductions) and recover unpaid rent
  • Reduce Tenant turnover and improve monthly cash flow

Get legal help

If you are having trouble with your tenant or your landlord and would like help, call a lawyer now.

FrontLobby Landlord & Tenant ONFrontLobby Landlord & Tenant ON

NG Legal Services Landlord and Tenant ONNG Legal Services Landlord and Tenant ON

4Pillars Landlord & Tenant Ontario All Topics May 20184Pillars Landlord & Tenant Ontario All Topics May 2018

Pardon Partners – Landlord ONPardon Partners – Landlord ON


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