With three large universities and numerous colleges located in
the City of Toronto (the "City") and a
dearth of student residences to provide accommodation, the demand
for student residence rooms appears to be perpetually high. Private
developers have begun to step in, in an attempt to fill this void.
However, there are several issues, aside from proper zoning, a
private developer must consider before setting out to construct
such a building.
The most problematic aspect of a private student residence is
the ambiguity of its classification. Would the residence be
considered a "rooming house" and therefore be subject to
the rules and regulations of Chapter 285 of the Toronto Municipal
Code (the "Code") related to
"rooming houses," or is a residence treated like any
other apartment building? The answer lies in the floor plans.
A "rooming house" is defined in §285-7 of the
Code as "a building that contains dwelling rooms."
"Dwelling room" is defined as "a room used or
designed for human habitation and may include either but not both
culinary or sanitary conveniences." It would appear that any
residence built containing both a washroom and kitchen within each
student room would not be deemed a "rooming house." This
is significant because any building categorized as a rooming house
requires a license. The Code currently restricts licensed rooming
houses to a maximum of 25 units.
A second issue facing prospective residence owners is rent
control. Private student residences do not enjoy the exemption from
rent control regulations contained within subsection 5(g) of the
Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 S.O. 2006, c. 17. Only
student residences provided by "educational institutions"
One final important consideration is whether it is permissible
to discriminate against prospective tenants based upon their
designation as a student. Subsection 2(1) of the Human Rights
Code R.S.O. 1990, c. 19 sets out that "Every person has a
right to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of
accommodation, without discrimination because of race, ancestry,
place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex,
sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age,
marital status, family status, disability or the receipt of public
assistance." Discrimination based on a person's enrolment
in college or university does not run afoul of any of the
enumerated grounds and is therefore seemingly permissible.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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