THE LAW SAYS: NO!
As a tenant, is your residential landlord allowed to limit your guests, who lives with you, who stays over night? Can your landlord charge a fee or extra rent or raise your rent if you have guests staying with you? What if you specifically sign a lease, agreement, document, that very explicitly says you will be the only person living in the unit? Can your landlord require that your guests, roommate, or visitor never be left alone in your apartment or on the residential complex?
I get these questions all of the time. It seems, from the questions that I get, that landlords have various strategies and tactics for trying to limit guests, occupants, roommates and visitors. Written agreements, lease clauses, rent increase provisions, and even limits as to the number of days that a guest can stay, are often provided in the agreements between tenants and landlords. Are these agreements, limitations, clauses, binding on tenants? If your landlord is quite seriously telling you that the friend you have had staying with you for the last couple of months has to go—otherwise the rent needs to go up—is that something that you need to worry about?
I have written on this a number of times elsewhere in this blog. The answer is always the same. A landlord is not permitted to create these kinds of limitations. When you rent a home, the law presumes that you can do in that home the kinds of things that humans generally do. One of those things is to have relationships, have guests, have visitors, and even to have sleepovers on a regular basis. It is not any of the landlord’s business who visits, who stays over, who arrives and never leaves. This includes boyfriends, girlfriends, children visiting, parents moving in (think aging, or sick parents), friends down on their luck, a roommate to help pay the rent, and whatever other potential class of persons you can think of.
While I have written about this, pointed out some human rights case-law on point, a recurring point that I get is that while the you (the tenant) believe what is being written on this point it is not so easy to convince the landlord that their position is illegal.
What does it matter what the law is if the landlord refuses to educate him or herself? If the landlord thinks the written lease clause or agreement is binding how do you convince him otherwise?
Recently, I have had a bit of luck convincing skeptical landlords of this fact by using the new Ontario Standard Form lease. Specifically, the standard form lease at section 15 highlights the illegality of prohibiting roommates, guests, etc.. While everyone should now be using the Ontario Standard Form lease (because the law requires it), you should know that a failure to use this form does not make a tenancy automatically invalid.
So what does the lease say at section 15? It says as follows:
Some examples of void and unenforceable terms include
• Do not allow pets (however, the landlord can require
the tenant to comply with condominium rules, which
may prohibit certain pets),
• Do not allow guests, roommates, any additional occupants,
• Require the tenant to pay deposits, fees or penalties
that are not permitted under the Residential Tenancies
Act 2006 (e.g.,damage or pet deposits, interest on rent
• Require the tenant to pay for all or part of the repairs
that are the responsibility of the landlord.
As you can see from the highlighted portion above—there it is. Lease clauses that do not
allow guests, roommates or any additional occupants are void and unenforceable.
I have found that showing the landlord this provision, in the Standard Form Lease, is convincing and solves the issue for many tenants. It’s an odd kind of way to prove the law, but this resource is easily accessible and rather straightforward.
Hopefully you can use this government mandates standard form lease to make clear the law on roommates, guests, visitors, and occupants.
Michael K. E. Thiele