Member Support Question: Tenant Guest Policies & RGI
Question: A tenant’s guest overstayed our one-week guest policy and when we let the household know, they said they didn’t have to report household changes for 30 days. If the guest is approved as an occupant, can we add her to the household retroactively for the RGI calculation?
Answer: There are a few issues here. Let’s address them one by one.
Housing providers governed by the Housing Services Act, 2011 (HSA) are required to establish a guest policy and provide a copy to their service manager (O. Reg. 367/11 Section 96 (4)). Providers under other programs should also have a guest policy even though it’s not strictly required.
Tenants can have ANYONE stay with them as a guest and overnight if they choose. The intention of the guest policy is not to say who a tenant can have as a guest, but to ensure the integrity of the subsidy system.
The guest policy must also be reasonable. It must strike a balance between meeting legislative obligations (RGI rent is properly calculated and the waiting list respected) with maintaining an individual’s right to privacy and quiet enjoyment in their home.
A one-week policy sounds overly restrictive. You might want to consider if there’s a reason you decided on such a tight timeline.
The ONPHA sample guest policy uses “up to two weeks stay without the non-profit’s consent”. After that time period, the tenant is obligated to report the addition to the household.
The household is correct. Under the HSA, RGI households must report an addition to the household within 30 days or risk losing their RGI subsidy. That doesn’t mean that you need to have a guest policy that allows people to stay for 30 days.
When someone arrives in the household and has the intention of joining the household permanently, the RGI household will need to notify you of the change within 30 days. If this person arrives at the household as a guest and does not have any intention of staying, they have to abide by the guest policy.
Adding a member to a household:
A household member is not added to an RGI household until they have applied for RGI and have been approved. If they were in the household as a guest before they became a permitted occupant, you don’t back-date their occupancy to when they first arrived in the apartment.
If the new occupant has an income, the increase will take effect the first day of the second month after the change, which is after they have become a permitted occupant.
Addendum or lease:
Service managers are responsible for setting a local standard regarding leases.
Some service managers may require the new member of the household to become a tenant and a signatory to the lease. You don’t need to sign a new lease. Tenants can sign an addendum which confirms all tenants and permitted occupants in the household.
Other service managers will allow the household to add someone to the list of permitted occupants on the lease with an addendum signed by the original tenant(s). Check with your service manager to be sure.
For more resources on guest policies and lease administration, contact ONPHA’s member support.