There are three types of roommate arrangements in rental housing:
- “Co-tenants” are roommates who jointly sign a tenancy agreement and share the same legal rights and responsibilities under that agreement. For example, if one co-tenant gives notice in writing to move out, that notice applies to the other co-tenants as well. Co-tenants are protected by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) and can access the Residential Tenancy Branch’s (RTB) services, including dispute resolution, when facing legal problems with their landlord.
- “Tenants in common” – also known as “tenants sharing common space” – are roommates who live in the same rental unit but have separate tenancy agreements with the landlord. For example, if one tenant in common gives notice in writing to move out, that notice has no effect on the other tenants in common living in the rental unit. Tenants in common are protected by the RTA and can access the RTB’s services, including dispute resolution, when facing legal problems with their landlord.
- An “occupant/roommate” is someone who rents from another tenant with whom they live – not the landlord. Occupants/roommates are not protected by the RTA and cannot access the RTB’s services. Legal disputes between roommates can be resolved through the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
Roommates is a topic that was covered in greater detail in Renting It Right: Finding a Home. If you have not yet taken that course, you may want to review that section before moving on.