The Legal Differences Between Renters & Boarders

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Boarders are people who rent a room in a residential structure that is shared with either other boarders or with the owner of the residence. There is shared common space and kitchen facilities, but the boarder will have a private sleeping area. A renter or tenant has a private entrance with their own private living area and kitchen facilities.

While, legally, a boarder and tenant are similar, they both have lease agreements with a landlord, they are expected to help maintain the property they are residing in and they are paying to live in a residence owned by another. However, boarders have fewer rights than tenants in terms of privacy.

Access to a Living Area

Boarders do not have exclusive access to their living area because the common areas are shared. Sometimes this includes outdoor area and sometimes it does not; this will be specified in the individual lease agreements. They are paying rent for the ability to use the common areas and their bedroom space. Parking arrangements can also be specified by individual lease agreements with boarders; however, if there is no specification, the boarder has the right to park wherever they wish on the premises.

Renters or tenants have the right of exclusive access to their living space, including available parking, even though you own the property. As a landlord, you can enter the space, but the renter must be notified.

Eviction of Boarders and Tenants

Both boarders and tenants have the same rights when it comes to eviction. If rent is not being paid, the landlord must present the boarder or tenant with a non-payment termination notice, but rent must be at least 14 days late before presenting the termination notice. After the tenant has been notified of rental termination, the landlord must get a court order before changing the locks or forcibly removing the person or persons in question.

Boarders and renters can also be evicted for taking part in illegal activity on the premises, excess noise complaints filed with the police department, not properly maintaining the property or violating a term in their specific lease.

Rules About Noise and Behavior

Landlords with boarders can have laid out house rules in their lease agreements that act as a code of conduct to avoid problems with multiple people renting rooms in one home. However with renters, unless their noise or behavior is illegal or disturbing to neighbors, landlords do not have the right to mandate their behavior or noise levels.

Locks and Security

Both boarders and renters have the right to security where they are living. Neither have the right to change the locks without the knowledge and consent of the landlord. Renters have the right to individual locks to their personal living space. Because boarders have a shared common area, they do not have the right to locks on their personal bedroom doors unless the landlord consents to their use.

However, the landlord cannot just enter the boarder's personal bedroom whenever they like; they must inform the boarder beforehand, just like they have to inform a renter or tenant beforehand.

Building and Safety Codes

Building and safety codes are also a concern. All homes, whether they house tenants or boarders, must comply with city and state safety standards. Two of those requirements state that if a single building is divided into multiple living units, there must be a fire barrier between each unit.

Also, all units must have working smoke alarm systems. Neither boarders nor tenants may tamper with the smoke alarms in a residence.

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