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I've read through the Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act, and my understanding is that if an individual rents a room from the Lease Holder of a multi-bedroom apartment (and the leasee is also staying in the apartment), and that the new individual is not added to the original lease, they will still have a Tenant-Landlord relationship, but it will be with the person they are renting from (and that person would have a Tenant-Landlord relationship with the landlord of the property). Some provinces have exceptions to the RTA if the landlord and the "tenant" share common areas like the kitchen and bathroom, but I see no such exceptions in Nova Scotia.

Specifically, Section 3, Application of Act, states:

(1) Notwithstanding any agreement, declaration, waiver or statement to the contrary, this Act applies when the relation of landlord and tenant exists between a person and an individual in respect of residential premises.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the relation of landlord and tenant is deemed to exist in respect of residential premises between an individual and a person when an individual

(a) possesses or occupies residential premises and has paid or agreed to pay rent to the person;

(b) makes an agreement with the person by which the individual is granted the right to possess or occupy residential premises in consideration of the payment of or promise to pay rent;

(c) has possessed or occupied residential premises and has paid or agreed to pay rent to the person. R.S., c. 401, s. 3.

And section 2(j) states:

(j) tenant” means

(i) an individual who has paid or agreed to pay rent tooccupy residential premises,

(ii) an individual who is permitted to occupy residentialpremises under an assignment or sublet to which the landlord hasconsented under Section 9B, and

(iii) an heir, assign or personal representative of an individ-ual referred to in subclause (i) or (ii);

I want to verify that I'm understanding the Act correctly, and that the RTA does apply to both parties (the original leasee and his landlord, and the leasee and his tenant).

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Here's what the Dalhousie University Legal Aid Service says (PDF, p. 25–29):

A sublet is a type of rental agreement between a tenant and a subtenant. This means that the tenant of a rental unit finds someone else to rent their unit from them for a period of time. Therefore, in a sublet the original tenant becomes a master tenant and the new tenant becomes a subtenant. ...

Subletting your unit is very risky. In a way, it is the worst of both worlds, because you have both the obligations of a landlord and of a tenant. ...

In a sublet the landlord still has obligations to you, and the landlord can also claim against you as well as the person you have sublet to. If there is a dispute between a subtenant and master tenant it has to be re- solved through Residential Tenancies. Similarly, if you are a subtenant, you can file a Residential Tenancies claim against either the landlord or the master tenant.

Also, note that Section 2(d) of the Residential Tenancies Act specifically applies to situations where only part of a unit is rented (bolding mine):

“residential premises” includes any house, dwelling, apartment, flat, tenement, manufactured home, land-lease community, manufactured home space or other place that is occupied or may be occupied by an individual as a residence or that part of any such place that is or may be occupied by an individual as a residence...

(I have omitted the list of exceptions which follow, but they do not seem to apply to a "rented room" situation.)

Taken together, it appears that a full landlord-tenant relationship would exist in the situation you describe. The only caveat is that it appears that the landlord and subtenant can, in principle, file suit against each other in case of dispute (as well as against the "master tenant".)

  • Is it considered subletting if the master tenant and subtenant both occupy the same apartment? – Brandon Wamboldt Aug 12 at 19:27
  • @BrandonWamboldt: That's the part I couldn't find any crystal-clear statement about. Given that Section 2(d) explicitly applies the same standards to rental of an entire unit and part of a unit, and in the absence of any overriding language in the RTA, I suspect that it's still considered a sublet. (It's not an "assignment", which is the other kind of relationship mentioned in the Dalhousie Legal Aid document.) But I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. – Michael Seifert Aug 12 at 19:36

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