Co-tenants are roommates who together sign a single tenancy agreement with the landlord. The roommates will usually provide the landlord with one rent cheque each month, and decide amongst themselves how to divide the costs. This is the most common type of tenancy for couples and families.
Co-tenants are jointly responsible for all conditions of the tenancy. This means that the roommates are together responsible for the full rent, as well as any damage that they cause. If the full rent isn't paid on time, the landlord could make everyone move out, and could also take legal action against any or all of the roommates through the Residential Tenancy Branch.
The benefit of signing a tenancy agreement with someone else is that you can choose who you want to live with, and how you will share the costs. It can be fun to live with friends, but this type of roommate situation can also become complicated. You’ll need to choose your roommates wisely! Remember that sometimes a person can be a good friend, but bad roommate.
Co-tenancies usually become complicated when one person wants to move out, or when money problems arise between the roommates. Issues between co-tenants are not covered by the Residential Tenancy Act, and can’t be resolved through the Residential Tenancy Branch. For example, there may be a problem when one roommate is late with their portion of the rent, and the other roommates must make up the difference to avoid eviction. From a legal standpoint, a monetary issue such as this one would have to be settled through Small Claims Court.
Another time a problem could arise if a co-tenant decides to move out. If this happens, all the other co-tenants will be affected. Here are the two possible scenarios that could play out: