Explanation of Tenant Rights For Renting a Room

In basic terms, a tenant who is renting a room in a house has the same rights and responsibilities as other tenants.

What makes a room rental a little different, however, is that many jurisdictions consider this action to be “lodging” instead of “renting.”

This may make it a little easier to evict a problematic tenant... or create a very large headache.

Here's why.

1. Tenants With a Room Have a Right To Occupy It.

What happens if an unexpected layoff requires the landlord to move out of their home or sell it?

The tenant still has a contracted agreement to be in that room.

A lease without details regarding this situation means the tenant may have the right to occupy their room through the end of the leasing agreement, even if the house itself remains unoccupied.

2. The Right To a Safe Living Environment.

Although a rented room has fewer repair needs, tenants still have the right to have a room that is safe and healthy.

Landlords must respond within the same amount of time, generally 24 hours for an emergency or 10 days for a non-emergency, to evaluate and/or repair the issue.

If this does not occur, then the tenant may have the right to abate their rent to repair the issue on their own.

3. Not All Tenants Have The Same Right To Privacy.

If a landlord lives in the same home as the tenant, then the landlord generally has the right to enter the rented room without giving notice.

This does not give the landlord the right to handle tenant possessions or constantly enter the room.

Landlords that do not live in the same building must give the same notice that other landlords with apartments or single family homes must provide.

4. Tenants Without a Lease May Be Without Rights.

Lodging does not always require a rental agreement, but tenants in this situation should push for one.

With only a few exceptions, landlords can remove those who are renting a room without notice and remove their possessions under trespassing laws if no documentation is in place to establish the tenancy.

The only written notice in this situation that is required is that the landlord must communicate that a tenant is not welcome at the building any longer.

Any damage that occurs to tenant property during this removal process, however, may be cause for litigation.

5. Notice Is Reflected On The Amount Of Time That Is Paid.

For lodgers that do have a formal rental agreement and are paying rent regularly, a landlord is only required to give the tenant notice that is equal to the amount of time for which the room is regularly paid.

This means a weekly payment for rent only requires a 1 week notice to leave.

6. Past Due Rental Payments May Allow a Landlord To Evict Without Notice.

If the rental payments for a room are past due by even 24 hours, then a landlord may be allowed to automatically evict a tenant without notice.

The eviction process still generally needs to go through the court for it to be considered a legal eviction.

Self-help eviction for rooms rented outside of the landlord's home are not allowed.

7. Tenants Are Not Usually Liable For Defects That Existed Before Their Tenancy.

Landlords may be required to provide an inspection list to new lodgers so that a detailed list of existing defects can be documented.

A failure to provide this opportunity for inspection may invalidate the leasing arrangement and require a full return of the tenant's security deposit if one was requested.

8. Security Deposits Are Generally Handled As Any Other Rental Relationship.

Renting a room may require a security deposit.

It also means landlords may have specific rules that must be followed when a tenant moves out, even if the tenant has been classified as a trespasser or guest and automatically removed.

A failure to follow security deposit laws may make the landlord liable for up to 3x the amount of the deposit through the small claims process.

9. Common Areas Must Have Appropriate Safety And Access.

If there are common areas that a lodger is allowed to access, then this access cannot generally be restricted.

It must also have appropriate lighting and other safety measures in place so it can be appropriately used. Restricting this access to a tenant may invalidate a leasing agreement.

Renting a room has its own pros and cons that must be evaluated.

By reviewing the key points in this explanation of tenant rights for renting a room, each party can decide is this is the best option to meet their housing needs at this moment.

Posted on Aug 18, 2015


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