With summer on its way, and the possibility of out-of-town guestsdraws nearer, questions can arise for tenants and landlords about what’s allowed when it comes to tenants having guests. It’s not something people often think about when they take a rental property, or that landlords consider when they rent out a home, but there are questions worth considering. For instance, can landlords prevent tenants from having guests? And is there a limit as to how long a guest can stay in a rental property?.
Andrew Sakamoto, executive director of B.C.’s Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, says the answers to these questions are not clear cut, but generally boil down to what feels fair and reasonable to both parties.
Sakamoto says Residential Tenancy Regulation in B.C. says landlords “must not stop the tenant from having guests under reasonable circumstances in the rental unit” or impose restrictions on guests (what amenities they can use or parts of the property they can access), and must not “require or accept any extra charge for daytime visits or overnight accommodation of guests”.
The same regulation says if landlords feel the number of occupants in the rental unit is unreasonable, they may discuss the issue with the tenant and “may serve a notice to end a tenancy.”
“If a landlord believes that a guest has become an occupant, they can try to provide a one-month eviction notice for cause, at which point the tenant would have the right to challenge the notice through dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch,” says Sakamoto. “An arbitrator would then weigh all the evidence provided and make a decision. To further muddy the waters, previous dispute-resolution decisions don’t form a precedent for future decisions. Two arbitrators may come to two different conclusions for two similar situations, which is all the more reason I can’t give you a definitive answer on this.”
One factor that could play into an arbitrator’s decision, says Sakamoto, is whether or not the landlord outlined any rules about guests in the tenancy agreement.
“Although, even then, the landlord cannot contract out of the law or force a tenant to follow an unconscionable term,” he says. “For example, we sometimes hear about landlords including a term saying tenants can only have guests for a total of 14 days per year. In my opinion, this term should be unconscionable and unenforceable. I suppose, however, an arbitrator could disagree.”
The long and the short of it seems to be that as a tenant, your landlord cannot stop you from having guests, as long as it’s a reasonable number of people and they’re there for a reasonable amount of time and not damaging the property.
Landlords might be wise to put something in their tenancy agreement about what feels fair in terms of how long guests can stay, but this can be contested and ultimately the decision rests with an arbitrator.
As with any relations, it seems that if people are acting fair and decently, and treating a property with care, disputes can probably be avoided, and you’ll probably be ready for your guests to leave long before your landlord wants to get involved.