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  • Writer's pictureAllistair Trent

Standard Lease - Tenants vs Occupants

As noted in the new Ontario Standard Form Lease, landlords cannot restrict tenants having guests, roommates or "occupants" staying in the property with them. 

In fact, in the absence of a restriction imposed by Condominium By-laws or similar authority the number of persons who are allowed to live in a unit is governed by the municipal occupancy standard which in Toronto is 97 sq. ft. per person. It is therefore permissible to have up to 5 people living in a 500 sq. ft. apartment.

While the landlord cannot prohibit the tenant from having additional occupants the tenant named is the lease is wholly responsible for the conduct of the occupants including any damage they do. If the occupants break the condo rules, disturb other tenants or the landlord or do anything else that offends the act it is the named tenant(s) who is/are liable. The occupants have no rights against the landlord and once the "tenant(s)" vacate or is evicted the occupants must also leave.

The other important consideration to remember is that where a number of tenants are listed the lease will remain in effect (and subject to rent control) as long as any one of them remains. If you lease to 3 students for example, two can vacate over time and the 3rd can bring others in as "occupants" while still being subject to the rent controlled rent. Only once the last named "tenant" vacates do the others have to leave with them.

In these situations one option is to select the most creditworthy individual, contract (only) with him or her as the "Tenant" and have the "Tenant" collect the rent from the other 2"occupants". The downside to this way of doing things is that you will only be able to pursue the named tenant for any rent or damages to the unit.

It is also important not to deal with the "occupants" as tenants or accept rent directly from them: If the landlord treats an individual as a tenant the Board will often consider them to be one regardless of what the lease says: If you have 3 people living there and they each pay rent directly and have dealings with the landlord it will often be difficult to establish that they are only "occupants".

For more information on this topic, to explore how Ontario tenancy laws can assist your rental portfolio or for advice or representation relating to Ontario rentals feel free to call me direct at 416-628-4835

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