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Q: Dear Sir/Madam,
I was wondering if you could give me some advice on my rights as a 'tenant'. I moved into a house on the 30th May 2012 after giving a 485 dollar cheque for June's rent, with a 500 dollar cheque for a deposit, these were both cashed by the landlady. I was given a receipt for each, although there was no contract or tenancy agreement. Initially I was just happy to be in a relatively safe and quiet room and not in a motel, although I've later become unhappy about the landlady making comments about saving on utilities and needing more money, even though these are supposed to be included in my rent. I've decided to leave as soon as I can, and was wondering how I stand legally on leaving, given as there's no existing contract. I'd love to just leave at the end of June, and get my deposit cheque back, although I realise this would probably be difficult.

Another scenario is that I give a months notice at the end of June, and leave at the end of July, and hope to get my deposit cheque back. I was also wondering what action I can take if the deposit is not returned to me in either case, as I fear it might not be. Also, my landlady has 3 tenants in the basement all paying around 500 dollars each, and I don't think she declares it as taxable, as she previously refused to sign something for a previous tenant that might show he was lodging with her.
A: I suspect you have found yourself in a situation that falls outside the Residential Tenancy Act. It appears that your landlord lives in the premises with you - that you have a room in a property where you share the kitchen and bath with the landlady. If this is the case, it is similar to your moving in with an old aunt, or a relative. It really is a domestic situation - not a tenancy. If so, you are outside the legislation, and you can simply slip out the back, Jack. No need to be coy, Roy. Just set yourself free. On the other hand, if yours turns out to be a tenancy (check with the RTB information line and give them more details) then you will have remedies available to you. The landlord cannot charge more than 1/2 a month’s rent as a security deposit, and a standard tenancy agreement is deemed to be in place even if there was no paperwork signed. You will be obliged to give one calendar month's notice that you are moving, and the landlord will have 15 days from the end of the tenancy to return your security deposit or claim against it. As for not declaring taxes, Revenue Canada gets interested in these cases. They may drop in, determine the landlady has not been declaring revenue, and move against her for undeclared income, tax owing, fines and penalties.


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