Insurance & legal considerations

Insurance

IInsurance must not be overlooked when looking to start a new companion housing arrangement. Both hosts and guests have their own responsibilities for insurance coverage.

Home insurance

For hosts who own their homes, home insurance provides coverage for your physical structure and personal liability. Before sharing your home with someone, you will need to review your home insurance policy. Most insurance policies will allow you to have up to two housing companions without any price increase. However, you always need to notify your insurance provider before anyone moves in. The language you want to use when notifying your provider is that you have a ‘border’ moving in.

Note: Every insurance provider is different; always consult your insurance provider regarding your coverage terms

Tenant insurance

It is recommended for all housing companions renting a room to have tenant insurance. This can provide liability, damage, and content coverage. These policies are usually very affordable and are available from many providers.

Note: Consider adding tenant’s insurance as a mandatory requirement in your living arrangement agreement

Tenancy laws

If you are a host renting your home, you will need to review your tenancy agreement terms. You may need to have consent from your landlord before starting a new companion housing arrangement. If you are not sure, always consult your landlord, your tenancy agreement, and your state/province tenancy laws.

If you are living in a home and not sharing a kitchen or bathroom with your host, tenancy laws may apply to your living arrangement. More is covered on this in chapter 5.

Bylaws

Bylaws refer to the rules established by strata or municipality regarding the way real estate can be used. Violation of bylaws may lead to a monetary fine or other penalties. 

Strata

If you live in a strata complex, you must familiarize yourself with the strata bylaws. If you are renting your home, your landlord or property manager should provide a copy of these. Key items to review are rental restrictions and move-in/move-out fees and processes. 

Note: Strata move-in/out fees typically do not apply to guests if they are not moving any furniture. This was tried in BC Supreme Court in 2018, where it was found that the moving fees ($100 each) were not justified

Municipality

Every community has its unique bylaws. The bylaw you need to be particularly mindful of is the number of non-related individuals who can live with you. Some municipalities allow for as little as two additional non-related persons to live in the home. Other cities will allow four or more non-related persons. If you are not sure, consult the bylaw department for your municipality. You can usually find this information by searching the municipal bylaws on your municipal website or calling your city bylaw department.

Legal considerations

Ensure your rights and liabilities are covered. The best way to do this is by signing a living arrangement agreement (contract) with your housing companions and upholding the terms of the contract. If you make any exceptions or changes to this contract, ensure all parties sign and date the amendments.

Suppose you are involved in a formal dispute with your housing companions. In that case, you will likely have to go through your province/state Civil Resolution Tribunal or small claims court. This process is usually used to claim damages or unpaid rent of up to $5000.

In the end, no one wins if you have to go to court. Do your best to resolve your differences and accept that sometimes everyone has to make some sacrifices. Moving on and getting back to a happy life will be much more satisfying than drawing out disputes.