Whoever coined the phrase “the more the merrier” was probably not a landlord.
But a recently-published decision clarifies the rights of landlords renting to multiple tenants. A hearing officer found that a landlord had the right to re-negotiate rent, and the deposit, in the case of revolving roommates.
A landlord entered into a tenancy agreement with two men, both of whom signed a lease in November of last year. In June of this year, two more persons moved into the rental property as guests. The following month, one of the original roommates gave notice to the landlord that he would be moving out.
At that time, the landlord negotiated verbally with the remaining roommate to stay in the rental property with the two other occupants. The landlord indicated that the monthly rent would be increased from $900 to $1,100 because of the extra occupant, and that a corresponding amount would be attributable to the deposit.
The remaining tenant completed the rental term, but then asked for dispute resolution to determine if he was entitled to a credit for the increased rent and deposit.
The B.C. hearing officer found that the original roommates were co-tenants, which means that each is jointly and severally liable to the landlord. Unpaid rent or damages to the property owed to a landlord can be collected from “all of the co-tenants, or from any one of them.” Likewise, when one roommate gave notice he was moving, that notice terminated the lease agreement for “all other co-tenants and any occupants of the rental property.”
For that reason, the original lease agreement terminated in July, and the remaining term was under a new lease agreement, at the higher rent and higher occupancy. The officer also found that the deposit of one-half the rent – the amount originally negotiated in the first lease, would continue to apply under the new verbal lease agreement.
It is crucial for a landlord to perform tenant background checks on all adult occupants. One can’t always predict who will remain – and who will be paying the rent.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.