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Renting To Minors

It's grad time again and a new crop of minors are seeking places to stay for graduation parties and beyond into the summer. According to the BC Age of Majority Act, a minor, or infant, is anyone under 19 years of age.

Front Desk PictureAs operators of accommodations, you're in the business of renting rooms and campsites. The act of renting a room or campsite involves creating a valid and enforceable contract with your guest. In fact, it makes good sense to create a valid and enforceable contract for each and every transaction.

Difficulties can arise, however, when accommodation operators rent to minors. In British Columbia, contracts entered into by minors, according to Section 19 of the BC Infants Act, are unenforceable.

The BC Human Rights Code defines age as "means an age of 19 years or more". This gives an opportunity to accommodation operators to set their own policies on renting to minors. While people under 19 are protected from forms of discrimination, like sexual harassment or race discrimination, they are not protected from age discrimination.

Therefore accommodation can legally refuse to rent to minors. This means that policies regarding rentals to minors can vary depending on the accommodation and it is at the discretion of the operator on whether they permit rentals to minors.

However, there are some circumstances when you might choose, or be required, to rent to a minor such as during an emergency situation which might be a wildfire, flooding or the breakdown of a minor's vehicle when they are far from home.

If you do decide to rent to a minor, there are some best practices that you can utilize to help protect your business:

1. Requesting that minors pay in advance for the full cost of the accommodation.

2. Requiring a co-signer over the age of majority with a valid credit card to create an enforceable contract.

3. In the absence of a valid credit card, it is wise to collect a cash deposit to be returned at Check Out.

4. Always obtain a second piece of identification at Check In. At least one piece of ID should be government-issued. Some accommodations choose to photocopy photo ID. Remember, you are required by law to maintain an accurate guest register under the Hotel Guest Registration Act.

5. Require the minor and co-signer to sign and acknowledge they understand your house rules on items such as noise, disturbing other guests or suite damage.  Some hotels now have a waiver or a "Recognition of House Policies for Eviction.

If you have to remove a minor guest from your property for failure to comply with house rules it is recommended that you contact the parents and/or the police depending on the severity of the circumstances.

Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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