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I'm guessing I know the answer to this but someone told me it doesn't work this way.

I'm renting a shared house. I have an individual lease with the people who told me they were the landlord, and I pay rent to them directly. It turns out the people who claimed to be the landlord are not the actual owners of the house. They are telling us now the actual owners want to move into the house so we have to move out. Someone was telling me, we are just subletters since the people we signed the lease with aren't the owners, and therefore not protected at all by the Tenancy Act.

Does it work this way? At minimum I would argue that the people we signed the lease with lied by claiming they were the landlord.

  • The people from whom you rent a home are, by definition, your landlords. Not really seeing the problem here. What do they plan to do if you simply refuse to vacate voluntarily? – Upnorth Dec 22 '17 at 4:34
  • @Upnorth if the owner of the property can end the tenancy legally then the occupant of the unit will face eviction (by whatever name it is known in BC). If the occupant is a subtenant then the prime tenants won't need to take any action for this to happen, though they might be liable for the costs incurred by the landlord in evicting the subtenant. – phoog Dec 22 '17 at 4:50
  • @phoog Agreed. And the hapless subtenants may certainly bill (and then sue) the prime tenant for damages arising from the subtenants' eviction. – Upnorth Dec 22 '17 at 18:24
  • I think that if the landlord was not the owner, they may be arrested for fraud. – Gabriel Diego Dec 24 '17 at 11:58
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In BC, a landlord can end a tenancy with two months' notice if (among other reasons) the landlord plans in good faith to use the property. That will be true even if the premises are occupied by a subtenant: "the agreement with the sub-tenant cannot contradict the original tenancy agreement."

However, if the tenants have sublet the property to you without the landlord's written permission, that is sufficient for the landlord to end the tenancy:

If a tenant sublets or assigns their tenancy without the landlord’s written permission, the landlord may serve notice to end the tenancy – which means the tenancy would also end for the sub-tenant, unless they’re able to negotiate a new tenancy agreement with the landlord.

In such a case, the required notice period is one month, not two.

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There is the "real" landlord, who owns the property. You had no contract with them, and they can legally throw you out quite quickly. It would be strange if a home owner can lose their rights because they rent to a fraudster.

There is the "fake" landlord, the one you paid rent to. It is quite possible that since you both signed a rental contract, and you paid your rent regularly, they have to give you the rights that the "real" landlord would have had to give you. And they can't, for obvious reasons, so they might be responsible for any damages. For example for your cost of having to move out quickly instead of after a longer period.

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The answer depends on whether the people you signed tenancy with had the right to sublet.

If they did and you can prove it, then you are a tenant and protected by the Tenancy Act.

If they did not, then yes, it works the way you've been told because they do not fall under the definition of landlord. You have been cheated by them (to see it clearly, consider the edge-case scenario if they were total strangers not having any relation to the property whatsoever — your case is essentially the same). Unfortunately, you do not have any right to occupy the property. The only remedy is to sue the "landlords" for misleading you.

  • Well that sucks. Any advice on how this can be prevented in the future? If I ask 'is this a sublet' it would be trivial for them to lie and say 'no'. – sticksandstones101 Dec 22 '17 at 7:19
  • @sticksandstones101 answer updated. In the future, that trouble can be prevented by asking for proof of ownership/acting on behalf of the owner. – Greendrake Dec 22 '17 at 7:28
  • The key thing for OP to know is that, whether or not the people who rented OP the property were or were not authorized to do so, OP cannot be kicked out and homeless tomorrow. There is still the 30 days limilt. – A.fm. Dec 22 '17 at 14:28
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    @A.fm. Absolutely. I would also propose that the "prime tenants" could be deemed to have acted with "apparent authority", under common law agency principles. – Upnorth Dec 22 '17 at 18:26
  • I'm not sure if this makes sense or not, but someone told me that, by the fact the person who I 'thought was the landlord' signed the lease where it 'declares them as the landlord', then they really are my landlord. Also the lease further stipulates that the Tenancy Act applies to them. So I guess it could be argued, the lease as a contract, states they are my landlord? – sticksandstones101 Dec 23 '17 at 12:29

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