Using Common Space Policy

Policies and programs

Using Common Space Policy


Download a PDF version of the policy


​​​​​​​​Contents

This policy covers the following topics:

  • Purpose
  • Scope​
  • Definitions
  • Principles
  • Responsibilities
  • Inventory and Needs Assessment
  • Administration
  • Forms and Procedures
  • The OU Tenant Community Fund
  • OU Implementation Checklist

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that common space in TCH communities is used to build healthy communities. To do this, the policy

  • clarifies the process for booking or renting common space,
  • outlines what the OU Tenant Community Fund is, and
  • outlines the process OU Tenant Councils should follow to decide how to use the money earned by renting common space.

Scope​

This policy applies to all common space in Toronto Community Housing’s communities. It outlines a clear and fair process for individuals and groups booking common space for short term or long term use, including rental fees and damage deposits where applicable.

This policy applies to anyone who wants to book common space, including tenants, tenant groups, TCH staff, members of the community or neighbourhood, political representatives, community agencies and organizations. TCH communities often include several tenant groups, including tenant associations, social clubs, interest groups, cultural groups and others. Tenants and tenant groups can book space in any TCH community, not just their own building.

This policy applies to common space in communities managed by TCH, and to communities run by property management services.

This policy also covers the Tenant Community Fund for each OU. OU Tenant Councils can use the money from renting common space to support tenant activities and initiatives in their communities.

This policy does not cover requests for

  • exclusive use of space
  • ​renovations, or
  • taking housing units out of circulation.

These requests must be negotiated with the OU manager and OU Tenant Council.

If Tenant Councils or communities seek to generate new sources of revenue using TCH assets and/or increasing costs to TCH (such as utility costs), permission must be granted by TCH.


Definitions

  • Common space includes recreation rooms, craft rooms, meeting rooms, gymnasiums and outside grounds. It does not include swimming pools, commercial space or housing units.
  • Short Term Use includes using space once, occasionally or for a short time. For example, hosting a birthday party; having a group meeting four times a year; or using a room for a few days to prepare for a building’s craft sale.
  • Long Term Use includes using space for part of the week, for up to a year. For example, one afternoon a week over six months.
  • Exclusive Use means that only one group can use the space, or that the space is only used for one thing. For example, a community agency running programs from an office that used to be a meeting room.

Principles

This policy will be guided by the following principles:

  • Space in TCH communities can only be used for activities which adhere to the Ontario Human Rights Code and do not break any laws.
  • Access to common space will be fair and equitable.
  • All individuals and groups must follow the same process to reserve or rent space.
  • Requests will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis, but will be flexible to accommodate unforeseen or changing needs. For example, a regular Tuesday night euchre may be rescheduled to allow for a culturally significant celebration.
  • Events that generate rental income will not receive any particular priority.

Responsibilities

Each OU is responsible for implementing this policy in their community.

They are also responsible for reviewing exclusive use arrangements to ensure that they continue to meet community needs, on an annual basis.

The OU manager is responsible for maintaining common space and equipment (such as tables & chairs) and for making sure all common space meets TCH standards.


Inventory

Each OU will do an inventory of common space in their community. The inventory should include

  • A list of what rooms can be booked and rented
  • Details about each room, including size and capacity
  • Information about how the space is currently being used
  • Details about whether the room, washrooms and building are wheelchair accessible
  • Details about other areas that can be used as common space

If OUs do not know the capacity of some rooms, they should contact TCH Life Safety. Staff from Life Safety will visit the room to assess the Fire Code capacity.

OUs will share this information with TCH staff and the other OUs. TCH will post this information on the TCH website.


Needs Assessment

Each OU will review how all common space is currently being used. OU staff and Tenant Councils, in consultation with tenant communities will:

  • consider how each long-term rental will affect or benefit tenants, the neighbourhood and the community
  • review all long-term use contracts once a year.
  • invite community resources/agencies to use common space for programs that meet identified needs and priorities in tenant communities.

Administration

Common space will be managed and administered by each OU. OU Tenant Council and staff will:

  • organize information meetings about this policy in each tenant community
  • review the fees/damage deposit structure and procedures in this policy and adapt them for their OU. For example, they may want to structure fees according to the size of the room and the length of the rental.
  • ensure that the OU Tenant Council processes applications for the Tenant Community Fund, including follow up for receipts/documentation as needed.

Designated OU Staff will:

  • make sure that the information is translated into languages appropriate for the local community
  • post information in each building about how to book space and how to apply to the Tenant Community Fund
  • post calendars in each building which include all room bookings
  • process applications to rent space. This includes handing out applications, checking that applicants have all the permits they need, coordinating room inspections and keys, collecting deposits and payments, approving applications and staff follow-up after each event.
  • deposit money from common space rentals in the Tenant Community Fund.

Forms and Procedures

  • How to Book Space
  • Fee Guidelines
  • Application to Rent Common Space (including terms of agreement)

How to Book Space

You must book space two weeks before your event to allow enough time for processing. This means that you must give TCH your application form and applicable fees/damage deposit 14 days before the event. If the event is urgent or unforeseen, exceptions can be made.


  • Step 1 Find out if the space is available. Check the calendar posted in the building and talk to TCH staff.
  • Step 2 If the room is available when you want it, ask the TCH staff for an Application to Use Common Space. The staff will tell you how much the room will cost (if fees apply), what is included, and whether you will have to pay a damage deposit and security costs. If the room is not available, staff may be able to suggest an alternative.
  • Step 3 Fill in the Application to Use Common Space. Read the Terms of Agreement. Make sure you sign both forms.
  • Step 4 Make sure you have liability insurance. Tenant groups are insured through TCH. If you are not a tenant group, you must buy liability insurance from TCH or an insurance company. TCH will not refund insurance fees if you cancel your event.
  • Step 5 Fill in the Insurance form or provide proof of Insurance.
  • Step 6 If you will be serving or selling alcohol, buy Host Liquor Liability Insurance. You must also get a Smart Serve Certificate.
  • Step 7 Return your Application and Insurance forms to the staff, along with all payments. Each payment (room rental fee, damage deposit and insurance) must be a separate certified cheque or money order.
  • Step 8 TCH staff will review the application and make a decision. They will let you know if your application is approved. The room is not booked until the staff tells you the application has been approved.
  • Step 9 Meet with the staff to:
  1. inspect the room. Look at the room and note any damage or problems
  2. go over the Terms of Agreement
  3. find out how to clean up the room, including what cleaning supplies you can use.
  4. find out how to access the space. If keys are issued, staff will tell you where to return them after the event.
  • Step 10 After the event, the staff will inspect the room. If there is damage, you will pay for repairs, cleanup or other costs. If these costs are more than the damage deposit, TCH will charge you for the extra cost.

Fee Guidelines

These fees are only a guide. Each OU or building may adapt these fees, if the Tenant Council and staff agree to the changes.


​​What kind of Event ​Fee ​Damage Deposit
​Open to all tenants(people who are not tenants may attend)TCH BusinessTenant Council/Tenant Group Executive meetings$0 ​$0
Private Tenant Use (not open to all tenants)
  • children's events (must finish by 6:00 p.m.)
  • adult events (must finish by 11:00 p.m.)
$25(children's events) $75(adult events)​ $50(children's events) $75​(adult events)
​weddings or receptions(must finish by 11:00 p.m.) ​$300 ​$300
Private event for people who are not tenants
  • children's events(must finish by 6:00 p.m.)
  • adult events(must finish by 11:00 p.m.)
$50 (children's events) $150 (adult events)$75 (children's events) $200 (adult events)
​Non-profit, religious or political groups ​discretionarydiscretionary
​For-profit groups (eg. filming movies, selling clothing, equipment)Fundraising for personal profit (eg, selling crafts, Tupperware, garage sales) negotiable​negotiable

Here is the Application to Use Common Space (PDF)


The OU Tenant Community Fund

  • About the OU Tenant Community Fund
  • Request Form
  • Approval Form​

About the OU Tenant Community Fund

The OU Tenant Community Fund is money from rental of common space in all building in the OU. It can be used to support initiatives and activities that help build healthy communities. Tenant groups can apply. The OU Tenant Council in each community decides which requests will get money.

Here are some examples of things that could get money:

  • equipment or material to support and invest in tenant activities or programs, recognizing the cultural diversity of the tenants
  • training and development for tenants and tenant groups. For example, learning how to deal with conflict, how to raise money, how to do advocacy, how to bring people together, how to cook, and how to do First Aid or CPR.
  • equipment and supplies to support programs in buildings, such as dining together and peer support groups.

How to Apply for OU Tenant Community Funds

  • Step 1 Fill in the Request Form. Make sure you include all of the information it asks for. If you do not include everything, it could take longer to make a decision about your request.
  • Step 2 Attach copies of anything that will support your request. For example, copies of invoices or estimates.
  • Step 3 Make a copy of your request. Keep the copy.
  • Step 4 Hand in your Request Form. You can give it to your Tenant Representative, building staff, or your COU office.

What will happen to my request?

Your OU Tenant Council will review your request. They will write to tell you their decision.

If the OU Tenant Council does not approve your request, you can appeal.

Write to them and say why they should look at your request aga​in. Give your letter to your OU Tenant Council.


Want more information?

Contact your Tenant Representative or Community Services Coordinator/Community Health Promoter​


Here is the Request Form OU Tenant Community Fund (PDF)