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  1. #1
    Ron Cannon's Avatar
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    Default Windowless Apartment

    I signed a lease back in April with a buddy for an apartment in College Station Tx. At the time they didn't have any vacant floorplans to show us what they looked like. So we signed our leases anyway. Well after some serious goof-ups on the leasing company's side they relocated us to the same floorplan but on a different floor resulting in us both having to sign new leases. However after I signed my lease they told me that one of the bedrooms has no windows -nor does the bathroom attached to it. I ended up with the bedroom without windows and the leases we signed were per bed leases. The room has a door that goes into the hallway and another door that goes into my roommate's room as well as the door that goes into the bathroom without a window. Also there are no skylights or anything that gives this room outside light unless I open the bedroom door to the living area and get the light that kinda streams in from the windows. Any ideas or suggestions?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Are you sure it was not just a very long weekend and you are actually in JAIL
    I would call the local building department in your town.
    Ask them what are their requirements for a room to be labeled a bedroom.
    If they require a window, have them email the code section and give that to your leaseing company, telling them they have breeched contract and you will accept another room with a view, or to return all your money with interest.
    Or a chisel and hack saw


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    I would call the local building department in your town.
    Ask them what are their requirements for a room to be labeled a bedroom.
    If they require a window, have them email the code section and give that to your leaseing company, telling them they have breeched contract and you will accept another room with a view, or to return all your money with interest.
    Or a chisel and hack saw
    And give the building department your address and invite them in so they can document what is there ... sounds like the landlord may be leasing out areas which may not have been permitted.

    In addition to being made whole by the leasing company, you may also save someone from a worse fate.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Is there a sprinkler on the ceiling?

    There is an apartment block here near the university which has a few windowless rooms with sprinklers installed. I would still question and challenge the lack of egress in the event of a raging fire out in the hall. It is ok for an office or a den but wrong for a bedroom.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  5. #5
    Ron Cannon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    Are you sure it was not just a very long weekend and you are actually in JAIL
    I would call the local building department in your town.
    Ask them what are their requirements for a room to be labeled a bedroom.
    If they require a window, have them email the code section and give that to your leaseing company, telling them they have breeched contract and you will accept another room with a view, or to return all your money with interest.
    Or a chisel and hack saw
    Hahaha No not in Jail. I did call the code office and the guy was surprised about the complex because no one had complained about it before. He said he would look into it but that was yesterday. I figure with the 4th I'd wait til Thursday for an answer before calling again


    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    And give the building department your address and invite them in so they can document what is there ... sounds like the landlord may be leasing out areas which may not have been permitted.

    In addition to being made whole by the leasing company, you may also save someone from a worse fate.
    I was thinking that and/or the fire chief because honestly it has be a bit concerned. Our downstairs neighbors are in the same deal and we've all started calling these rooms set up like this "the dungeon"

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Is there a sprinkler on the ceiling?

    There is an apartment block here near the university which has a few windowless rooms with sprinklers installed. I would still question and challenge the lack of egress in the event of a raging fire out in the hall. It is ok for an office or a den but wrong for a bedroom.
    No sprinklers in the ceiling, It's off Harvey Road. My parents believe that it was probably a Den once (I think this complex was built in the 70's or 80's, who knows?) but they decided to try and work around it with the floor plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Since it does not apply to the IRC it must be in line with IBC. Here all it needs to be is 8% of the floor area. It does not need to provide egress. If the room is 7x7 ft required for minimum that is a pretty small window. 49 sq ft the window size would be 3.9 sq ft compared to IRC of 5.7 sq ft or 24" by 20".
    I should add that I have never seen a dorm this small here.
    My suggestion is to get a SAD light for the winter and make him install The Sky Factory Custom ceiling art uses ceiling tiles to create indoor sky in any room without a window.
    The room is like 10x12 and has no exterior walls. I'll try and post a pic of the floor plan on here tonight to show what I mean.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Here's the floor plan:



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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Cannon View Post
    Here's the floor plan:

    The living room gets its natural light and ventilation from the sliding glass door to the porch.

    The dining room gets its natural light and ventilation from the window.

    The corner bedroom gets its natural light and ventilation from the window. That window would also serve as a secondary means of egress (if the window is large enough).

    The center bedroom does not get any natural light and ventilation from anywhere. That bedroom also needs a secondary means of egress because it is not sprinklered.

    Neither bathroom requires a window if there is a bath fan or a continuous vent operating all the time.

    The above is from the current ICC codes and most codes which preceded the ICC codes had the same requirements.

    Added with edit: I forgot to mention, most codes also require a bathroom be available to the occupants of the dwelling without having to go through a bedroom.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    The center bedroom is where I'm at right now. Does that make it an illegal bedroom even in Texas Jerry?


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Jerry,

    If a room is sprinklered it does not require a secondary means of egress; any idea why that is so given that a sprinkler is only going to activate if there is flame? Seems kinda late if there are flames to be looking for an exit.

    Should there not be a second means of escape regardless of sprinklers?

    Does the code also mandate smoke alarms in each bedroom and hallway areas as a first defence?

    What am I not understanding?

    Thanks,


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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    And your goal at this point is to ... Get out of the lease?
    - Check your lease does it state you rented a 2 bedroom Apt
    - Check what Code your Muni is under, that would need typically be considered a bedroom for various reasons as Jerry has mentioned
    - Check to see if your Muni has a Landlord / Tenants rights ordinance. Such ordinances typically spell out remedies and requirements for disputes between landlords and tenants.
    - Also have the Muni inspectors check out the heating / AC system for compliance when they come out. Chances are its poorly done and air quality / distribution may be suspect. This can affect your health and utility bills
    - Around here that set-up would be a slam dunk for a tenant to get out of the lease
    - I don't know what you guys consider a 'per bed lease' but around here that sounds like some sort of unlicensed BS SRO scam.
    - If you folks have housing court down there, its time for your landlord to become acquainted with it.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    If its illegal set up to begin with switching rooms around and wall will not make it legal. It would still have to be inspected and approved.


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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    I am talking about you suggesting to alter the walls to make it right. That is not the tenants responsibility. The closet is irrelevant in the scheme.

    The apartment from description and replies of others indicate its not legal to begin with.


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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Kevin

    You are going off on tangents.
    Re-read what others have said.
    And do you really need to re-quote every post?


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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Altering, adding, smadding, its all the same thing for permit purposes.
    Of course this is a relatively easy fix. But at this point it sounds like the guy is dealing with a slumlord looking to get away with anything he can running student housing.
    If you turn the dining room into a bedroom that means building a wall and door; regardless of whether the wall is structural or not that typically requires a permit.
    If you add a window to the 'bedroom' that would definitely require a permit since you are creating an opening in a structural wall. A proper lintel and/or header needs to be installed
    If you turn the dining room into a bedroom, what happens to the current bedroom? Based on the provided floor plan do your really think people will use it as a dining room? OR will it become a defacto 3rd bedroom for a couple guys to add a roommate.
    This can all be readily resolved but that fact that the landlord let it happen in the 1st place raises suspicions about how much he knows or cares.
    Whether the tenant pushes the issue or not is a quality of life question that only the tenant in that situation can fully answer for themselves.

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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    I also wonder if the landlord bothered to install smoke alarms?


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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    If a room is sprinklered it does not require a secondary means of egress; any idea why that is so given that a sprinkler is only going to activate if there is flame? Seems kinda late if there are flames to be looking for an exit.
    The sprinkler system is there to put the flames out.

    Should there not be a second means of escape regardless of sprinklers?
    The reason for the second means of escape is to escape fires, and sprinklers are there to put the fires out, thus the second means of escape is not required with sprinklers.

    Does the code also mandate smoke alarms in each bedroom and hallway areas as a first defence?
    Yes, inside and outside each bedroom, basically the same as when no sprinklers are installed.

    What am I not understanding?
    That the sprinklers are there to put the fire out and that the system notifies the fire department? Presuming, of course, that all systems work as intended.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Raymond there is no Altering but adding. The wall carries no value of structure and do not need wiring or insulation. However if you wanted privacy I wood recommend roxul anyways.
    Kevin,

    Putting up, or taking down, *any* wall is an alteration and requires a permit. Adding a closet into a room *is still* an alteration and requires a permit.

    The bedroom walls require wiring as they require receptacles at proper spacing.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    The City of College Park, Texas has adopted the 2012 edition of the International Property Maintenance Code with local amendments, effective Jan 1, 2012. You can view the unammended version (on line and for free) of same here (clickable link): International Property Maintenance Code

    See the adopted amendments here (clickable link to .pdf file): http://www.cstx.gov/Modules/ShowDocu...documentid=606

    Pay special attention to Chapter 4, all sections & subsections, especially Subsection 401.3 and Section 404. See also the 2012 edition of the International Fire Code, and local ammendments to same, regarding means of egress status for your bedroom. Further note, the codes at the time the "apartment" was built are kept in consideration.

    The remaining code references & local ammendments to same can be found here (clickable link): City of College Station : Building Codes

    I don't believe you mentioned what "floor" level above grade your apartment was on, might it be 4th floor or higher?

    It seemed unclear as to the multiple lease documents (each roomate has separate lease for portion of shared dwelling unit???) discussion for a single 2-bdrm 2-bathroom 'apartment' - is it a dormatory type rental or a sleeping room sub-let?


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    The City of College Park, Texas has adopted the 2012 edition of the International Property Maintenance Code with local amendments, effective Jan 1, 2012. You can view the unammended version (on line and for free) of same here (clickable link): International Property Maintenance Code

    See the adopted amendments here (clickable link to .pdf file): http://www.cstx.gov/Modules/ShowDocu...documentid=606

    Pay special attention to Chapter 4, all sections & subsections, especially Subsection 401.3 and Section 404. See also the 2012 edition of the International Fire Code, and local ammendments to same, regarding means of egress status for your bedroom. Further note, the codes at the time the "apartment" was built are kept in consideration.

    The remaining code references & local ammendments to same can be found here (clickable link): City of College Station : Building Codes

    I don't believe you mentioned what "floor" level above grade your apartment was on, might it be 4th floor or higher?

    It seemed unclear as to the multiple lease documents (each roomate has separate lease for portion of shared dwelling unit???) discussion for a single 2-bdrm 2-bathroom 'apartment' - is it a dormatory type rental or a sleeping room sub-let?
    It is a 2nd floor apartment. Two floors is as high as anything goes there. Again, no Sprinklers in the apartment at all. The property is managed by a leasing company that is based out of Philadelphia. Each roommate has a lease to a bedroom, my contract states I live in the Unit# room A and my buddy in Unit # room B. And if you look at the floor plan it shows it as a bedroom. Someone said that the complex was built in the 70's though, however other complexes that were built around then as well do have windows in all of the bedrooms.

    Here is the Complex site listing of available floor plans:

    Campus View Provides Off Campus Housing For Students Of Texas A&M University In College Station, Texas

    The Fraternity shows no windows in 2 of the bedrooms, no where do they list sprinklers.

    My plan isn't listed on the site anymore (along with a 2br/2.5ba town home) because they've filled them up for this coming school year starting in August.

    This is the corporate group that runs them:

    Student Housing Developers - Off Campus Student Housing - College Student Housing - Campus Apartments - Student Housing Managers - Student Housing Management Companies - Student Housing Management Company - Student Housing Companies - Student Housing


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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Someone should have the fire department come out and assess the building for safety and fire code regulations/infractions.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Just got off the phone with the Fire Marshall's office, apparently they were built to code in the late 1970's early 1980's so according to them it's a legal bedroom.


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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    I don't consider the wall a wall but just 2 dividers with a door.
    Still needs a permit.

    What if you decided to put one wall 38" and then a door 38" and then another wall.
    Do you have to have a plug outlet?
    Yes, if there is not a receptacle outlet within 6 feet of the door opening. A wall space of greater than 24" requires a receptacle outlet.

    As for the walls I think you would get laughed at if you brought the plans in to the building department.
    Not if the building department was doing their job.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Windowless Apartment

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Maybe there but certainly not here!
    Maybe not there, but I am referring to what is *required*, as in what is *required* by the code - if the local AHJ does not enforce the code, and there are many areas which still do not have codes or have codes but do not enforce the codes ... nonetheless, though, if there is a code, that requirement is in the code.

    The original posted is in Texas, and Texas *does* have a code, thus a permit would be a requirement in Texas ... however, Texas does not have good enforcement of that code from what I hear.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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