Home Inspection Articles

Is Your Basement Apartment Legal in Ontario?

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Apr 3, 2013 12:53:00 PM

ForRentBasement apartment, granny flat, accessory unit; no matter what it’s called, there are many different reasons for having a second suite. Whether it’s for extra income, providing a place for a family member, or increasing the value of the house, a second suite can be beneficial. However, while these additional units come with benefits, they also bring specific guidelines and formalities homeowners have to comply with. As bylaws continue to be enacted and redesigned, depending on the municipality, it can be difficult for homeowners to ensure that their suite is legal and safe. To help combat confusion and shed some light on tricky situations, Carson Dunlop has created some material to help educate homeowners and real estate professionals on issues related to basement apartments.

How to Quickly Identify an Illegal Suite

We recognize that when it comes to real estate transactions, obtaining the documentation necessary to determine whether or not a basement apartment is considered legal is not always possible due to time constraints. Below is a short list of items that are good indications that a secondary suite is not legal.

  • The basement apartment has drop ceiling tiles:
    >> The only exception to this would be if the entire building is sprinklered.
  • There is no self-closing door between the two units:
    >> This is a fire containment issue and should not be taken lightly.
  • The windows in the basement suite are non-existent or too small, and the unit does not have its own exit door:
    >> Look for windows with at least a 4 SF opening that are casement types.
  • The ceiling height is under 6’5:
    >> This is a minimum for houses that are over five years old.

For a more in-depth look at basement apartment issues and regulations, check out Basement Apartments: Untangling the Web, featured in the Carson Dunlop Resource Center. This article addresses:

  • Provincial legislation
  • Municipal legislation
  • The evaluation process for both existing and new suites
  • Specific unit requirements
  • Ontario Fire Code compliance
  • Electrical inspections

At Carson Dunlop we believe that knowledge is the best line of defense when it comes to protecting your home.

Topics: Home Inspection, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips