Tenant rights and responsibilities - renting with a roommate

TIP: If you see your name, it is your Bill

If your name is the one on the utility bill, phone bill, or lease, then it is important that you take all necessary actions to ensure that your credit rating does not suffer in the event that your roommate fails to pay their half of the rent and other bills.

Choosing to share your rental accommodation with another person may reduce the cost of rent and utilities, but it is important to look at some of the problems it can bring. Those who are living in the same space have to communicate with each other clearly and find a way to get along, despite their obvious differences. It is important that you take the time to lay down some basic guidelines with your new roommate to avoid any unpleasant situations in the future. By getting all of this out of the way from the start, you can save yourself a lot of grief later on.


You will want to talk to your new roommate to discuss how they feel about certain things, including additional roommates, smoking, pets, overnight guests, and alcohol consumption. It is also a good idea to discuss whether or not you will share an internet connection and what kind. Decide on a certain hour for “quiet time”, so both of you will know when it is time to turn down the noise.

It is obviously important to respect each other’s privacy and living area, but it is also necessary to determine which of you will assume the legal responsibilities that come with renting a house or apartment. Which one of you will be responsible in the event of damage to the property? The rights and responsibilities of tenants vary a bit, depending on the part of the country you are in, and they are clearly laid out in the provincial and territorial laws that apply to both landlords and their tenants.

Traditionally, the person or persons who sign the lease for the rental property assume responsibility for the actions of the other people living there. If both people living in the unit sign the lease, they are equally responsible for paying rent on time each month. The liability of the guarantor depends on the agreement that is in place with the landlord. The tenant whose name is on the telephone and utility bills is responsible for making payment each month.

If your roommate is not on the lease, you are completely responsible for all of their actions, for better or worse. If you are both named on the lease, the landlord can still choose to take action against both of you if one person violates the written contract.