Makeshift room in a condo for rent - is it legal?
January 15, 2014 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Recently went for a viewing of a 2 bedroom condo for rent and the landlord has created a third makeshift room in the living room which is also available for rent. Is this legal in Canada?

The condo is located in the Kitchener/Waterloo municipality (Ontario, Canada) and is geared towards university students. The unit has 2 bedrooms and the landlord has created a third makeshift bedroom in the living room by placing a large shelving unit to corner off an area. The shelving unit is not floor to ceiling and there is no door for the "room". The place was advertised as a 3 bedroom unit for rent.

I am wondering if this is legal to do (for renting purposes). Also looking for relevant links that can speak to the legality of this.
posted by Danniman to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Local by-laws on rental housing or general housing standards will apply. Here's one for the City of Waterloo; here's one for Kitchener. If it's outside those cities, then look for the by-laws appropriate to the location.
posted by holgate at 7:58 PM on January 15, 2014

You'd basically be looking at the building code, which may specify minimum room sizes and requirements for a sleeping room. I'm in the US, but the minimum dimension I recall (perhaps incorrectly) is seven feet, and there isn't any specific requirement that a bedroom have a door unless it needs to be separated from a fire rated corridor or something. It sounds to me like the landlord is probably OK as far as the space is concerned, but if it's being rented separately from the rest of the apartment (this is how I read your question), that sounds pretty odd.
posted by LionIndex at 8:01 PM on January 15, 2014

As long as the bedroom/living room has two means of exit with one leading directly outside (IE: a window large enough to crawl through) then it's legal to use that space as sleeping space (with a couple minor caveats like presence of gas fired appliances). Under Canadian building code there isn't anything else differentiating a "bedroom" from a "living room" (minimum sizes are ludicrously small). If the person was selling this space there are listing regulations and guidelines that this arrangement might violate but that is a contract thing rather than a legal thing. If you were looking at this via an agent then you could file a complaint but if it's a Kijiji/craiglist/bulletin board thing I can't imagine what recourse you would have. Presumably one would ascertain the exact arrangements before renting.

See also bachelor suites where you only have two rooms, the bathroom (which might even be shared) and one big room containing everything else.

PS: there is one other thing that could trip the landlord up: the last two electrical code cycles require AFCI protection in bedrooms and lack of such protection would be an electrical code violation (that no one would care about unless someone sleeping in the living room died in fire). Compliance with that regulation would be a simple matter of swapping out a breaker or maybe two.
posted by Mitheral at 8:03 PM on January 15, 2014

I would check with the condo office. I don't know if creating another bedroom is legal, but it may not be something that the condo board likes. If so, I'm sure they'd like to know about it.
posted by foxjacket at 8:29 PM on January 15, 2014

It's not a code violation - it's an advertising violation. It isn't an actual bedroom, so that's the part that isn't right. Usually, you would see "Plus third space - could be bedroom". That's how they get around it. There might be some tenancy act rule, but I doubt it. It isn't about the building code - that's why he didn't include a full wall or door or anything like that.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:42 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Seconding Chaussette and the Pussy Cats -- the clearest violation here is that it's false advertising. Report it to the website/paper that published it, and if the university maintains listings of housing for rent, let them know as well.
posted by desuetude at 8:28 AM on January 16, 2014

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