Occupancy Standards: Bedroom vs. Dens - What's the Difference? (+SURVEY)

June 7, 2018

Dear Neighbours, 

 

as you may know, By-Law 13 (the Organizational By-Law) was registered and adopted as of November 18, 2016, following a vote of Owners*. Once the majority of Owners passed the By-Law, the Corporation began enforcing it.

 

A particularly important part of this By-Law is the Occupancy Standard portion, which states that the Corporation has the right to charge additional funds (as maintenance fees) to those who are over their standard occupancy limit.

 

 

So, what is an Occupancy Standard?

According to our Declaration... 

ARTICLE 6-OCCUPANCY STANDARDS

6.01 Definitions

 

In this article, (...)

 

“Occupancy Standard” means the maximum number of persons entitled to Reside in a unit, based upon the City of Toronto’s maximum occupancy for which the Corporation’s building was designed, as determined by the registered Description for the Corporation and by the “occupancy load” established in the Ontario Building Code 0. Reg. 403/97, s. 3.1.16.1(1) or as amended hereafter) which requires that no more than two persons per sleeping room or sleeping area shall reside in a dwelling unit.

As you can see, according to the Ontario Building Code, the norm is two people per sleeping room/area. A common question that we, The Board of Directors, regularly receive is...

 

 

"What counts as a sleeping space?"

To answer this question, we again turn to our Declaration...

ARTICLE 6-OCCUPANCY STANDARDS

6.01 Definitions

 

In this article, (...)

 

“Sleeping room” or “sleeping area” means any bedroom, study, den or other room designated as a sleeping room or sleeping area by the board of directors of the Corporation from time to time in a dwelling unit in accordance with the architectural plans forming part of the Corporation’s registered description, but shall exclude a kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, solarium, bathroom, foyer, lobby, closet, laundry room, utility room, pantry and balcony, unless any such excluded room is designated as a sleeping room or sleeping area by the board of directors from time to time.

Of course, bedrooms count as a sleeping space, therefore, apartments may have the following occupancy limits based on the numbers of bedrooms:

- 1 bedroom : 2 persons.

- 2 bedrooms : 4 persons.

- 3 bedrooms : 6 persons.

 

 

However, what about dens and/or studies?

 

The Board of Directors looked into whether dens and/or studies would (and should) qualify as a "sleeping room" or "sleeping area". To do so, we examined the various laws and codes, such as the Ontario Building Code (OBC) and the Ontario Fire Code. We also spoke to the Developer, Elad, and inquired as to what occupancy the building and its facilities (ex: elevators, as well as staircases and emergency plans) were planned and built for.

 

 

The Ontario Building Code (OBC):

 

According to the OBC, we must look at two points to see if a room qualifies as a sleeping area:

(1) the size of the room, and whether it meets minimum requirements if a closet is (or is not) provided.

(2) whether or not a window is present, and if so, is it of the required size?

ONTARIO BUILDING CODE:

(...)

9.5.7.1. Areas of Bedrooms:
(1) Except as provided in Articles 9.5.7.2. and 9.5.7.3., bedrooms in dwelling units shall have an area not less than 7 m² where built-in cabinets are not provided and not less than 6 m² where built-in cabinets are provided.

(...)

Article 3.7.2.1. Window Area:

(1) Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3) or otherwise permitted, every room used for sleeping in any building, and every principal room such as living room, dining room or combination of them in dwelling units SHALL BE PROVIDED WITH WINDOWS having areas conforming to Part 9.

While some of the units in the building do meet the criteria for the minimum areas, none of the units have dens with windows, and as such, ultimately cannot be classified as adequate for sleeping.

 

Therefore, dens do not meet the OBC's criteria for what is required of rooms to be designated as a "sleeping space" or a "sleeping area".

 

Furthermore, the really difficult part is when the Fire Code is involved.

 

 

The Ontario Fire Code:

 

In regards to sleeping spaces and the fire detectors and alarms necessary, the OFC states that...

Interconnected Smoke Alarms

9.8.4.1. (1) Interconnected smoke alarms required in Sentences 9.8.2.2.(2) and 9.8.3.3.(2) and Clause 9.8.3.4.(1)(b) shall be installed on or near the ceiling in each...

(a) storey within a dwelling unit (...), and

(b) shared means of escape.

 

(2) Smoke alarms referred to in Sentence (1) shall be 

(a) electronically interconnected so that the activation of any smoke alarm will sound a similar signal in each of the interconnected devices,

(b) installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, and on all floor levels containing bedrooms or sleeping areas, the required smoke alarm shall be installed between such bedrooms and the remainder of the dwelling unit, such as in a hallway or corridor serving such rooms or areas.

Once we reviewed the fire code we checked the drawings for the units with dens, and found that none of the units have the correct fire alarm set-up that would qualify dens as sleeping areas. Because the alarms in a condominium must be interconnected, simply installing an independent battery-operated unit does not suffice.

 

Therefore, dens do not meet the Ontario Fire Code's criteria for what is required of rooms to be designated as a "sleeping space" or "sleeping area". 

 

Following the check of the drawings, we also posed this question to our Fire Inspector, who inspected units and confirmed that dens do not have the proper smoke alarm system set-up to be designated as adequate for sleeping. 

 

 

Building Design and Capabilities

 

Lastly, the Board consulted with the Developer, and asked how they calculated building occupancy capacity when deciding on matters such as the number of necessary elevators, emergency evacuation plans, general wear and tear on the building, and maintenance fees.

 

The Developer's representative confirmed that the occupancy was based on two people per bedroom, and that dens had been excluded from their calculations when establishing the standard building occupancy. 

 

Therefore, the building was not designed to allow the additional capacity of including dens as a "sleeping space" or "sleeping area". 

 

In fact, if all dens were considered sleeping areas, it would increase the population of the building by 506 people (from a capacity of 1,238 people to 1,744), which is a significant increase of 41%. This would place an incredible burden on elevators, amenities, and unit consumption (such as water), ultimately surging maintenance fees by a large amount for all unit owners as the additional costs of consumables must be accounted for. In fact, the additional costs are what those who are over occupancy are being charged. This system ensures that those who use additional goods and services pay their fair share rather than distributing the costs to the owners who are not over their suite's occupancy limit.

 

 

The Board's Decision:

Are Dens as Appropriate for Sleeping?

 

As previously stated, the requirements of the Ontario Building Code are not met in regards to classifying a den as a "sleeping space" or a "sleeping area", and neither are the requirements of the Ontario Building Code. Furthermore, the building was not designed to accommodate the number of residents that allocating dens as sleeping areas would require. 

 

Most importantly, the Board must uphold the laws, which include the Ontario Building Code and Ontario Fire Code. We simply do not have the authority to contravene either the OBC or the OFC, and in fact, the Corporation and its representatives can be held liable if we do. We also cannot, in good conscience, add a significant burden of 41% to the building, as it was only designed for a maximum capacity of 1,238 people which is based on two people per bedroom.

 

In conclusion, we hope that you understand why dens do not meet the requirements necessary of a "sleeping space" or a "sleeping area", and why the Board does not have the authority to designate them as such.

 

Should you still decide to use a den as a sleeping area regardless of the above, please note that there are many rules and regulations that are strictly enforced (ex: dens are not to be enclosed) as well as extra charges involved for over-occupancy fees (fees charged per person).

Additionally, for the next month, the Board is requesting your feedback as to the decision that dens cannot be designated as appropriate sleeping areas. Suite Owners are kindly requested to complete a quick (1-2 minute) survey by clicking the following link: (feedback deadline is July 7th, 2018):  https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4408075/Occupancy-By-Law-Bedrooms-Vs-Dens

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact Property Management via email at Admin@EmeraldCityOne.com.

 

All the best,

Andreea Birloncea 

on behalf of the Board of Directors of TSCC 2368

 

*For a By-Law to pass, the Corporation requires an affirmative vote of 50% + 1 unit Owners. Simply put, that means that the majority of owners need to vote "yes" (not simply vote) for a By-Law to pass.

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