Ontario Court Rules Against Guelph in Student Housing "Lodging House" Case

By Joey Coleman // @JoeyColeman
Published: Apr 29 2017 (24 days ago) // Last Updated: Apr 29 2017 (24 days ago)

The City of Guelph declared the renting of a home to a group of students on a single lease to be a "Lodging House Type 1" in their zoning bylaw.

The four properties in questions are homes rented to groups of students - very similar to what occurs in Westdale and Ainslie Wood in Hamilton. (Which is why I'm noting the ruling)

Each of the properties is leased to a group of students who jointly sign a lease, and are collectively responsible for the rent. The landlord allows for each student to separately pay their portion by cheque.

The City says this made the houses Lodging Homes, and stated this on its website. The owner disputed the City's position, and took the City to court.

In a 89 paragraph ruling, Justice Gorden Lemon of the Superior Court of Justice ruled in favour of the owner finding the homes were not lodging units as intended by the bylaw.

Here are a few key paragraphs:

[62] If Mr. Kritz were renting to separate tenants or was found to have set up some sort of sham to avoid the by-law, the result would be different. But on these agreed facts, I find that he is renting one unit to several people not several units to several people.

[67] Following the case law and applying these agreed upon facts:

(a) Mr. Kritz did not create the group. Each group of tenants had pre-existing friendships at the time they approached Mr. Kritz as prospective tenants. This is inconsistent with each individual dealing with Mr. Kritz with respect to one room. In case it is necessary to put an issue to rest, this agreed fact is inconsistent with any suggestion that Mr. Kritz is setting up a sham residence to hide a lodging house.

(b) Each of the properties was rented as a single unit to that group. For each property, a single lease was signed by a single group. The tenancy agreements provided that each tenant is jointly liable for the total rent payable for the entire dwelling unit. Notice by one or more tenants is sufficient to terminate the tenancy of all tenants. In a lodging house situation, it is unlikely that one person would sign such a lease with a group of strangers. Here, the collective signed as one unit.

(c) The lease for each property is one year in duration. This is not the short term rental considered in the case law.

(d) Each group of tenants has full access to and control over the entire unit and there is no “exclusive possession” by any single tenant. The bedroom doors do not have key-locks. Again, this is not consistent with the rental of a single room.

(e) The tenants determine who occupies each bedroom and how to occupy the unit generally. This is consistent with the rental of the entire unit and inconsistent with renting a room.

(f) The tenants are responsible for cleaning the dwelling unit. The tenants are also responsible for keeping the stairways, walkways, driveway and parking space(s) clear of ice and snow, and for replacing light bulbs. This could only be done with collective decision making in a residence functioning as a single dwelling unit rather than a group of separate roomers.

(g) Mr. Kritz provides a stove and refrigerator for the use of the tenants of each property. The tenants are otherwise responsible for furnishing the dwelling unit. A lodger might provide his or her own bedroom furniture; only a collective would be able to furnish the balance of the residence.

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