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This help desk is a free resource intended for discussion purposes only. Neither BOMA, its chapters, affiliates, or Extreme Measures Inc.® are responsible for the information, comments or opinions expressed herein. For complete information, refer to the official publications of the standards themselves.

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BOMA 1980 VS 1996

c3d Design
November 24, 2009

We are working on an office space renovation project within an office building, and were being asked which year of the BOMA standard is more favourable to the tenants. (ie lesser rentable square footage ). I believe the 1980 standard has less clarification but just not sure if it is more favourable to the tenants. Can you let me know your thoughts on this matter please?



Adam Fingret
Extreme Measures Inc.
November 24, 2009


Generally speaking, BOMA 1980 is more favourable to tenants.

This is because BOMA 80 measures only Tenant Usable Area and a proportionate share of Floor Common Area whereas BOMA 1996 adds the concept of Building Common Area to the mix which can include areas such as mechanical penthouses and below grade utility rooms - areas that aren not even captured under BOMA 80.

The thing to watch out for with BOMA 1980 is tenanted floors with large portions of common area on them (often ground floors with lobbies, garbage and utility rooms, exit corridors etc). Under BOMA 1980, such areas can only be deemed Floor Common Area which unfairly allocates these building amenities to ground floor tenants only. This is a well-known weakness of BOMA 1980.

David Fingret
Extreme Measures Inc.
November 24, 2009

Hi Jan,

BOMA 1980 is measured on a floor by floor basis and only includes Floor Common Area as a means of applying a proportionate gross-up factor to individual tenants.

BOMA 1996 is measured on a building-wide basis which includes floor common area and introduces the concept of Building Common Area as well.

Generally, the BOMA 1980 standard will be more favourable to tenants because it does not include Building Common Area. For example, under BOMA 1996 a mechanical penthouse would be Building Common Area and proportionately shared with all tenants in the building but under BOMA 1980, it is not calculated at all.

There is one exception though. Ground floor tenants under BOMA 1980 will almost always have a higher rentable area than ground floor tenants under BOMA 1996. This is because ground floor lobbies are considered floor common area under BOMA 1980 and therefore proportionately shared by all tenants on the ground floor. Under BOMA 1996 however, ground floor lobbies are considered Building Common Area, which proportionately distributes all of that space to all the tenants in the building, resulting in a much more balanced gross-up.

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