What are student rentals?
These are standard homes which have been converted to be rented out by room to students attending nearby schools. Whether or not these students are on one lease or several leases, for bylaw and insurance purposes, the house is still viewed as student rooming house. This could also include dwellings and condos specifically built for student living.
Location, Location, Location
When choosing a location to purchase your student rental property the distance from the location on campus is a huge factor. Depending on how big the campus is even certain areas attract certain students. This is also important factor when advertising your property, because if the rental property is only a 5 minute walk or bus ride to campus, this is a very important feature of the property worth mentioning in your listing. Other helpful location factors include how far the property is to grocery stores, malls and bus stops.
Being a student landlord is a very niche part of the real estate rental market, which requires particular skills and unique approach to handling your rental. Owning a student rental may require having it licensed and following particular bylaws of your local municipality. This is to meet proper fire codes and accommodation standards.
Under the Municipal Act, 2001, Municipalities have the specific authority to license, regulate and govern businesses operating within the municipality. This includes the authority to pass licensing bylaws covering the business of renting residential units and operating rooming, lodging or boarding houses/group homes. Many cities in Ontario are looking to regulate rental housing and student housing in order for landlords to comply with rental bylaws.
Regulations would require landlords to submit floor, maintenance and parking plans, provide proof of insurance and tenancy agreements, allow city staff to enter and inspect the units, and comply with codes and bylaws. Landlords could face fines for violating their license.
Fire Safety and Building Code Requirements
BOARDING LODGING OR ROOMING HOUSES
A Boarding, Lodging or Rooming House is defined in a like manner in both the Ontario Building Code and Fire Code. The definition is as follows:
Boarding, lodging or rooming house means a building,
(a) that has a building height not exceeding three storeys and a building area not exceeding 600m2 ,
(b) in which lodging is provided for more than four persons in return for remuneration or for the provision of services or for both, and
(c) in which the lodging rooms do not have both bathrooms and kitchen facilities for the exclusive use of individual occupants.” These types of residences have specific requirements under the Ontario Building Code and Fire Code. For your own safety, please ensure that it meets code if your property falls in this category.
The following is a list of Ontario Building Code Requirements for Student Rentals. If you plan on investing in a student rental property, be sure to check with the local municipality if there are any by laws in effect.
BEDROOM MEASUREMENT AREAS: – (126.96.36.199.), (188.8.131.52.) O.B.C.
- At least one bedroom shall be of an area not less than 105 square feet or 9.8 square meters where there are no built in cabinets. Where there are built in cabinets or closets, not less than 95 square feet or 8.8 square meters, exclusive of the area taken by the closets or cabinets.
- All other bedrooms shall be of an area not less than 75 square feet or 7 square meters, exclusive of the area taken by the closets or cabinets.
MINIMUM ROOM HEIGHT: – (9.5.3.) O. B.C.
1) Living Room, dining room, kitchen is required to have at least 75% of the floor area at 7ft. 7in. with a clear height of 6ft 11in. at any point over the required area.
2) Bedrooms are required to have at least 50% of the required area at 7ft. 7in. or 6ft. 11in. over all the required floor areas. Any part of the floor having a clear height of less than 4ft. 7in. shall not be considered computing the required floor area.
3) Basement space is required to have a minimum height of 6ft. 11in. over at least 75% of the basement area. Except that under beams and ducts the clearance is permitted to be reduced to 6ft. 5in.
4) Bathroom or laundry area above grade is required to have a height of 6ft. 11in. This would be in any area where a person would normally be in a standing position.
5) Passage, hallway, main entrance, vestibule, finished rooms not mentioned above is required to have a height of 6ft. 11in.
EXITS FOR BEDROOMS:
1) Ensure that any floor that has a bedroom has 2 means of escape and that each bedroom has a window or door to the exterior that is large and easy enough to open. 184.108.40.206.(1) O.B.C.
2) A second separate exit may be required from the basement area. This exit cannot be a window.
WINDOW MEASUREMENT REQUIREMENTS:
1) The minimum unobstructed opening requirements for egress windows is 15 inches (380 mm) in one direction and a total of 3.8 square feet (0.38 square meters) in area.
2) The minimum area of unobstructed glass area shall be 5% of the area served. 220.127.116.11. O.B.C.
3) The height of the window should provide easy access for use as an exit. It is recommended that the sill not be higher that 1.0 m (39 inches) above the floor except basements. Section 18.104.22.168.(2) O.B.C.
4) Required unobstructed glass areas for various rooms are drawn from table 22.214.171.124 O.B.C., which is summarized below.
5) Where a window opens into a window well, a clearance of 21 5/8” (550 mm) shall be provided in front of the window. This opening shall not restrict the minimum clearance dimension.126.96.36.199. O.B.C.
6) Newly created or enlarged window openings require lintel or beam support. A building permit is required.
DOOR MEASUREMENT REQUIREMENTS:
Minimum Door Size (9.6.3.) O.B.C.
- a) Main Entrance: 32” x 78”
- b) Bathroom: 24” x 78”
- c) Rooms other that A & B: 30” x 78”
- d) Passage from exterior to basement or utility and stair to level containing a finished space: 32” x 78”
FIRE RATED DOORS:
- Any dwelling that has sleeping quarters below grade (basement level) should have a 1 ¾ inch solid core door.
- Smoke alarms must be on every level and in each bedroom as approved by the Fire Services Department
- All furnace rooms should have 1 ¾ inch solid core doors with a self closing device and will remain latched at all times.
HOW TO ENSURE YOUR DWELLING IS FIRE SAFE!
- Check that working smoke alarms are installed on every floor level as well as in any basement bedroom. When bedrooms are located in basement, the smoke alarms located in the common spaces must be connected to the home’s wiring.
- Ensure that exit doors open easily without the use of a key.
- Confirm that there are two escape routes from every sleeping area (e.g., door and large window). Bars should not be placed on bedroom windows. Also consider an escape ladder for bedrooms located above the first floor. Depending on the number of occupants a second exit may be required from the basement area. This exit cannot be a window.
- See that extension cords are not being used as permanent wiring to serve fixtures and appliances, and that electrical cords never run under carpets or through doorways or stapled to the structure. ULC approved power bars with fuse protection are permitted.
- Check that there is a portable fire extinguisher (2 A 10 B C) located in the kitchen. All extinguishers should be mounted at a location on the way out of the building.
- Keep all storage away from hot water tanks and furnaces. Never store flammable liquids or propane tanks inside of a building.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm near each sleeping area in each home or apartment.
- Develop and practice a home escape plan.