For Landlords

Roommate Drama: Avoiding Tenancy Complications

Renting your unit to a single family or person is infinitely easier and preferable for most landlords. Ever since renting with roommates has become increasingly common, especially with the demographic of mid-tier rentals falling on students in college towns and young professionals, you might need to rent to multiple tenants sooner or later.

Roommates sharing a rental space can be a cost-effective and socially enriching arrangement, but it doesn’t come without its own set of complexities, especially from a landlord’s perspective. The dynamics of unrelated tenants in a single rental unit can introduce some potential complications in managing tenancy agreements, maintenance, and interpersonal relationships among tenants. 

Here’s a few tips to make the most out of it. But first, let’s go over the pros and cons —


  • Financial Stability: Multiple tenants may ensure that rent is paid promptly, as the financial responsibility is distributed.
  • Social Environment: A shared living arrangement can create a vibrant, social environment that’s appealing to many renters.
  • Attractiveness for Tenants: Larger properties may be more affordable for groups, making it easier for landlords to secure tenants for more spacious units.


  • Interpersonal Conflicts: Roommate disagreements could potentially become a landlord issue if they affect the payment of rent or property care.
  • Wear and Tear: More occupants typically mean more wear and tear on the property.
  • Legal Complications: It may be complex managing the legal aspects of multiple renters.

Don’t Complicate It

Why think so hard? Follow the tips below!

Pick a single point of contact. As a landlord, you have the right to insist on rent consolidation, accepting only a single payment each month and not multiple payments from all the tenants. This lets you communicate clearly with one primary tenant, ensuring consistent, streamlined interactions. That doesn’t mean every problem has to be dumped on this representative, but if someone were to request maintenance or if you need to ask why rent is late, both parties know who to call.

Set collective accountability. Landlords don’t need to get in the middle of tenant disputes or financial disagreements. For example, when it comes to refunding the security deposit or assessing charges for property maintenance, landlords should provide a detailed invoice and let the tenants work out their respective shares. It’s vital that all roommates understand they share responsibility for costs incurred during their tenancy.

No unofficial subtenants. Ensure every adult occupant is formally listed on the lease, allowing you to conduct thorough background and credit checks. This measure helps maintain your property standards and legal protections. Should there be any change in the tenant lineup, having an established process for tenant evaluation and lease modifications is essential.

Important: the ‘Joint and Several Liability’ Clause

In a joint and several liability arrangement, each tenant who signs the lease is equally responsible for rent. If one roommate falls short on rent, it doesn’t mean the others just cover their individual shares; all signees on the lease are collectively responsible for compensating the total monthly rent.

Here’s what that might look like in your rental agreement:

It’s crucial to incorporate this clause in your lease, especially for properties occupied by multiple tenants. Clear communication about this responsibility is vital, ensuring tenants understand that regardless of their personal arrangements, the full rent must be paid consistently each month. Avoiding unnecessary landlord interference is in your best interest.

What You Don’t Want is Fighting Tenants

While roommates do introduce an additional layer of complexity to rental management, well-drafted agreements and transparent communications can significantly smoothen the tenancy. Both landlords and tenants should be fully aware of their rights, responsibilities, and legal standing to ensure harmonious cohabitation in shared rental units. Furthermore, landlords may find that establishing clear guidelines and expectations at the outset of the tenancy helps prevent misunderstandings and provides a clear roadmap for resolving potential disputes. 

If the situation ever goes out of control, you need a reasonable mediator to step in and figure out the best course of action from there. Talk to your property manager if you have one, or if you’re using SPEEDHOME, call our homerunners and we make sure our policy is honoured. In the worst case scenario, one of the tenants will have to be removed but we can do our best to find you a replacement.

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