LEGAL BASEMENT APARTMENT -
BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO LEGALIZE BASEMENT APARTMENT
A basement apartment might be just what you need to provide the added income to make your dream purchase affordable, but beware of the
pitfalls and remember that you as a purchaser assume all the liability of a home that doesn't comply, regardless of when you bought it. Smart
real estate agents never list a house as having a legal basement apartment since they do not want to guarantee that the basement apartment
complies fully with all the applicable fire codes, building codes, Electrical Safety Authority regulations and zoning and housing standards by-laws.
Illegal basement apartments are a risk to the occupants and others in the structure as well as a concern to the community in general. They are
dangerous as they may pose a fire risk and other safety concerns such as:
* fire risks such as not enough building exits, fire separations between units, working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors
* illegal and unsafe utility connections
* illegal and unsafe building renovations
* excess driveway and street parking
* excess garbage
* overload on existing utilities (electrical, plumbing, water and sewers)
* possible depreciation of neighbouring property values
When a suspected illegal basement apartment is reported, the Fire Department receives the complaint. A Fire Prevention Officer will then
conduct an initial inspection to determine whether the basement apartment is permitted (as per Fire Code regulations only) and to ensure that
while the basement apartments are occupied that they are made safe. The fact that the basement apartment is inspected by the Fire Department
and may be approved as safe or that they meet the Fire Code does not necessarily mean that the basement apartment is permitted under the
The Ontario Building Code which prescribes minimum requirements for the construction of buildings is a code that applies only when the house
was built. The building code changes over the time but for the most part, it does not apply retroactively.
The fire code which prescribes construction and safety issues as they relate to how the building is required to perform should it catch fire, can
Here are few basic requirements for a legal basement apartment.:
(1) The detached or semi detached house must be at least 5 years old.
(2) The front of the house cannot be significantly altered to change its appearance from that of a one unit building.
(3) Basement apartment must be smaller than the main dwelling unit.
(4) Minimum ceiling height is 6'5". Ceiling must be continuous. Suspended (T-bar type) ceilings and exposed joists are not acceptable. Furnace
room ceiling must be dry walled or plastered too.
(5) Doors must be solid wood or metal and minimum thickness is 1.75". Exterior door must be at least 32"x78". Interior doors must have a 1/2
inch gap at the bottom to provide air movement within the basement apartment, unless return air ducts are installed in the room. The smallest
dimension of the window is 18" and the opening must be at least 600 sq in. Windows must be within 3' of ground, and if there is window well it
must extend 3' from the house wall to allow room to crawl out.
(6) Bathrooms have to have either a window or fan.
(7) A kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, stove in good repair and working condition. Cupboards having a capacity of not less than four cubic
feet multiplied by the total number of persons occupying the unit..
(8) New basement apartments require building permits before construction begins. In most areas an additional parking space is required for new
basement apartments. If there is a parking spot for the upper unit, there must also be a parking spot for the basement apartment.
(9) The property owner is responsible to make sure that smoke alarms are installed and maintained.
Carbon Monoxide alarms are required under many Municipal By-laws. They are to be provided in each dwelling unit in a building containing a
fuel fired appliance or an attached garage. Even if they are not required by legislation they make good sense with to-day's design methods
providing for air-tight construction of dwelling units.
Smoke alarms must be installed in each dwelling unit on every floor including those containing a bedroom or sleeping area. The alarm must be
audible in bedrooms when the bedroom doors are closed. The smoke alarm may be battery operated or connected to an electrical circuit with no
disconnect switch between the over current device and the smoke alarm. Interconnected smoke alarms may be required if:
• 15min. Fire Resistance Rating is used between dwelling units
• one dwelling unit must exit through another dwelling unit
If required, interconnected smoke alarms must be installed in every storey above and below grade in each dwelling unit, and in every shared
means of escape where applicable. These alarms must be audible in bedrooms when the intervening doors are closed..
Some municipalities require to provide the furnace with a relay to shut down the furnace blower fan and gas valve if the smoke alarm is activated,
and equip the heat ducts and cold air return in the basement apartment with fire dampers where they penetrate the wall or ceiling membrane. A
cold air return is required in the basement apartment and if located within 24” of the basement floor fire damper is not required.
(10) An electrical inspection by Electrical Safety Authority (ESA - 1 877 ESA SAFE) )and all the deficiencies identified during the inspection
must be addressed. Owners should retain the letter of compliance received from the Electrical Safety Authority for future reference purposes.
This letter must be made available to the Chief Fire Official upon request.
(11) A continuous fire separation with a 30 min. Fire Resistance Rating is required between dwelling units and between dwelling units and other
areas. This may be provided by existing membrane of lath and plaster or gypsum board.
Openings in Fire Separation shall be protected with rated doors installed in hollow metal or solid wood frames and equipped with self closing
Lesser degrees of Fire Resistance Rating may be acceptable with the provision of interconnected Smoke Alarms or Sprinkler Protection. The
containment features are intended to provide protection for the occupants living in a dwelling unit from a fire occurring in another portion of the
building, outside of their control.
To achieve a 45 min fire resistance rating for walls, one layer of 5/8" Type X drywall on each side of the wall is required.
To achieve a 45 min fire resistance rating for ceilings, one layer of 5/8" Type X drywall is required.
To achieve a 30 min fire resistance rating for walls, one layer of 1/2" regular drywall on each side of the wall is required.
To achieve a 30 min fire resistance rating for ceilings, one layer of 1/2" Type X drywall or two layers of 1/2" regular drywall is required or one
layer of 5/8" regular drywall.
(12) A single means of egress - provision for the escape of persons from each dwelling unit in the event of fire - may be acceptable if the
following conditions are met:
• It is properly separated with a 30 min. Fire Resistance Rating
• The flame spread rating of means of escape does not exceed 150 (wood paneling is unacceptable)
• The means of escape does not involve entering another dwelling unit or other occupancy and leads directly to the outside at ground level.
Two means of escape are required if one means of escape is through another dwelling unit. An existing means of egress may be acceptable if
the basement apartment is sprinklered.
(13) Ontario building code (O.B.C Part 9 Section 9 Clause 11.2) also requires minimum sound transmission class rating - STC 50 sound proofing
between the dwelling units. The worst noise issues are usually noted under the main floor kitchen, bathroom, powder room, foyer and laundry
room where the upper floor is not carpeted. The Ontario Building Code's Supplementary Guidelines recommends either 38mm concrete layer
over the sub-floor and two layers of the superior Type X gypsum board ceiling below it or 25 mm concrete light weight concrete on the sub-floor,
absorptive insulation between the ceiling and the sub floor and double layer ceiling.
Section 9.8 of the Ontario Fire Code prescribes the requirements for Retro-fit for basement apartments in the following areas:
1. Exits - egress
2. Separations between dwelling units (ceilings and walls), doors, etc.
3. Smoke alarms
4. Carbon Monoxide alarms (per By-law)
5. Electrical inspection
The landlord (owner) is responsible for compliance with the Ontario Fire Code and is responsible to ensure the safety of their tenants in the
basement apartment. An individual may be fined $50,000 per offence or one year in jail or both, for violations of the Ontario Fire Code.
The landlord (property owner) is also responsible for compliance with the municipality’s zoning by-law to ensure that the basement apartment is
being used/occupied as permitted by the zoning by-law. An individual who is found guilty of a violation of the municipality’s zoning by-law may be
fined up to $25,000 per offence and a corporation found guilty of an offence may be fined up to $50,000 per offence.
Province of Ontario laws now require all the municipalities to allow basement apartments in homes.
In 2009, the Ontario provincial government began developing a long-term affordable housing strategy. Public consultations were held across
Ontario. In 2010, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released Building Foundations: Building Futures, Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable
Housing Strategy (LTAHS). As part of the strategy, Bill 140: Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act, 2011 was introduced to
Provincial Parliament on November 29, 2010 and received Royal Assent on May 4, 2011.
To further expand affordable housing opportunities, Bill 140 amended various sections of the Planning Act by:
Requiring all the municipalities in Ontario to implement official plan policies and zoning by-law provisions that allow basement apartments in
detached, semi–detached and townhouses. Municipalities in Ontario will have the ability to determine appropriate locations and performance
standards for these units. Removing the ability to appeal the establishment of these official plan policies and zoning by-law provisions, with the
exception of official plan policies that are included in five-year updates of municipal official plans.
The changes to the Planning Act for basement apartments came into effect on January 1, 2012. Municipalities in Ontario are required to bring
their planning documents into conformity with the new Province of Ontario legislation as part of their five-year official plan review. Alternatively,
the municipalities may choose to adopt basement apartments policies in advance of the official plan review.
Municipalities will be responsible for determining what standards or zoning provisions should apply to legalize basement apartments with regards
to matters such as minimum unit size or parking requirements. Basement apartments must comply with all other applicable laws and
requirements, including Ontario Building Code, Fire Code, and municipal property standards. The proposed changes would not “grandfather” (or
legalize) any existing basement apartment that does not meet these requirements.
Bill 140 amended the Planning Act to require all municipalities to implement official plan policies and zoning bylaw provisions that allow basement
apartments. Municipalities must now come up with guidelines on how to regulate them. Until rules and regulations are established by each
municipality, it will be status quo which means basement apartments will still be illegal. The province did not give municipalities a deadline to
make the change.
The provincial government realizes that the cost of living in the province is going up and the ability for people to buy homes is becoming more
pinched, so if the basement apartments are legally permitted, it will allows people to buy a home and supplement their mortgage payments by
renting out the basement for the first number of years. Allowing basement apartments is a very astute measure, very broad ranging economic
policy being brought forward by the provincial government. Also it would benefit elderly people who want to stay in their own homes as they age
but find it expensive on a fixed income. Basement apartments can provide a separate living arrangement for an elderly family member who for
health or safety reasons may no longer be able to live on their own. They can also provide accommodation for a son or daughter who also may
be living at home for various reasons. Basement apartments can also provide a second source of income for an older retired couple that allows
them to ‘age in place’. The older couple can move into the basement apartment and rent out the larger dwelling, or they can remain in the main
dwelling and rent out the basement apartment. This is particularly important to emphasize because over the next 20 years, seniors are forecast
to grow rapidly. As such, this aging population trend will contribute to a demand for more flexible inter-generational living arrangements, which
basement apartments can help accommodate. Most demand for utilities and services is based on household consumption. However, the number
of persons per unit varies broadly and is not directly proportional to the existence of a basement apartment. A house with a basement apartment
may or may not have more people than single unit dwellings since the households in basement apartments tend to be smaller (seniors, young
adults, singles, single parent families, etc.) Basement apartments tend to have fewer school-age children living in them than single household
The municipalities are required to legalize basement apartments in all ground-related dwellings and their ancillary structures in both existing and
newly developing residential communities. However, when developing basement apartment policies, the provincial government encourages
municipalities to consider constraints such as flood-prone and/or environmentally protected areas, or those with inadequate servicing.
Province of Ontario enacted the basement apartment legislation to help municipalities address the crisis, since basement apartments provide
some of the most affordable rental rates. Legal basement apartments provide an effective form of affordable housing and increase the
availability of affordable housing choices while also offering a home owner an opportunity to earn additional income. Affordable housing becomes
more of an issue as the Greater Toronto Area attracts more and more people. Municipalities across the Greater Toronto Area have lengthy wait
lists for subsidized affordable housing. Peel Region is facing a crisis in affordable housing, with families waiting up to 15 years to get a subsidized
unit and the Peel Region's affordable housing situation is deplorable. Even if family members are living in the basement and not paying rent, the
municipalities still consider them illegal. Municipalities are working to change its by-laws to make basement apartment legal. Municipal legislations
to permit basement apartments must be passed by each municipality before new units can be created legally. Individual Municipal Requirements
for Basement Apartments.
Since parking issues are perhaps the greatest concern associated with legal basement apartments, parking requirements will need to be
established into the municipal Zoning By-Law. Specifically, the municipalities can consider requiring at least one off-street parking space for the
basement apartment. However, where properties are smaller and narrower in some subdivisions, this may entirely restrict the construction of
basement apartments. Therefore, eliminating parking requirements for the basement apartment is an option in certain areas, although this may
become a substantial issue since overnight on-street parking is not permitted in most residential areas. An additional challenge to accommodate
parking for basement apartment is that the the municipal Zoning By-Law currently specifies maximum driveway widths and requires a certain
proportion of the front yard to be maintained as unpaved 'landscaped open space'.
Restricting the size of the legal basement apartment can help limit the number of occupants, and this can be a further way to help alleviate some
of the concerns associated with them. To ensure that basement apartments are accessory to the principal dwelling, the floor area could be
limited to a certain size that is not more than half of the total gross floor area of the principal dwelling. The number of bedrooms in the basement
apartments could also be restricted and this would help reduce the potential for it to be occupied by larger families, thereby limiting the additional
demand on municipal infrastructure and community services.
In an attempt to preserve the character of existing homes and neighbourhoods, when a legal basement apartment is constructed, the
municipality could require the external appearance of the principal dwelling be maintained and permit only one front entrance to a house. This
would help ensure that the basement apartment is incorporated into the surrounding neighbourhood of the property with minimal aesthetic
impact. However, this stipulation may also restrict the construction of basement apartments, since it may be very costly or even impossible to
construct a separate entrance for the basement apartment at the back or side of the principal dwelling.
As a way to help address concerns surrounding the potential for both the principal dwelling and the basement apartment to operate as rental
units, the municipalities may consider a zoning provision to require that either the principal dwelling or basement apartment be owner occupied.
While this may be difficult to enforce, it could help address property standards concerns regarding basement apartments and their potential to
negatively affect the existing character of neighbourhoods.
In an attempt to encourage both the creation and legalization of new and existing basement apartments, some jurisdictions have waived building
permit and inspection fees for a period of one year. Some municipalities have also provided grants to support their construction as part of a local
affordable housing strategy. Funding could be allocated in the capital budget for this type of an initiative under the authority of a Community
Improvement Plan, as legislated under the Planning Act.
Town of Ajax requirements for Legal Basement Apartment
Legal basement apartments are permitted in Town of Ajax in all residential zones, excluding RM4, RM5, and RM6.
To permit an basement apartment must meet the following requirements:
Minimum of three off-street parking spaces - Two parking spaces for the principal dwelling unit and one additional parking space for the
Minimum gross floor area of 25 m² (269 ft²) and the total gross floor area of the accessory apartment is not more than the ground floor area of
the dwelling in which it is located.
Basement apartments used or occupied on/or before Nov 16, 1995 are not required to meet the zoning requirements as Section 76(1) of the
Planning Act "grandfathers" these basement apartments, however a building permit is required.
When the House is less than five years old, the basement apartment is reviewed under Part 9, Division B of the Ontario Building Code, the
construction requirements of the Ontario Building Code are more restrictive.
Typical Building Code requirements are as follows:
Minimum window areas for light are 10% of the floor area for living/dining rooms, and 5% of the floor area for bedrooms
45 minute fire separation
Separate heating systems
Hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarms located within each dwelling unit and all shared areas
Carbon monoxide detectors, within each dwelling unit adjacent to each sleeping area
Town of Aurora - Requirements to Legalize Basement Apartment
Only one unit is permitted to have a home occupation.
Basement apartments are not permitted in buildings located within the flooding and erosion hazard limits of all watercourses.
Basement apartment registration fee: $150 and $75 if additional inspections are required.
Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury - Requirements to register a legal basement apartment
Permitted in a detached home, semi-detached home or place of worship, and shall be located entirely within the same main building
One basement apartment per lot
No more than one entrance to a house is contained within the front facade and the entrance to the basement apartment must not be located
within a private garage
Minimum size to be 38 m² (409 ft²) and the maximum size to be 45% of the gross floor area of the principal building
One additional parking space per unit
If located in an area serviced by private servicing, the lot must be of an adequate size and the private waste disposal system must be sized to
accommodate the basement apartment. Furthermore, if there is a private water supply, this water supply shall be adequate to accommodate the
basement apartment. Approval is required from The Region of York or appropriate approval agencies for the provision of adequate water supply
and sewage facilities.
City of Brampton will approve legal basement apartments very soon
Brampton’s Official Plan permits basement apartment through a rezoning process. Only basement apartments that were built before November
16, 1995 and were registered with the City of Brampton before January 31, 2006 are considered legal.
About 3,000 homes in Brampton have legal basement apartments that homeowners built after the Government proclaimed Bill 120. For these
units to be legal, the owners had to have built them before November 16, 1995 and the owners had to have registered them with the City of
Brampton before January 31, 2006 or they had to have legal non-conforming status.
The City of Brampton strictly prohibits homes that owners have subdivided their houses into more than two units, unless the City has specifically
zoned the property to permit multiple dwelling units. The City of Brampton has zoned only very few houses as triplexes.
All legal registered basement apartments in Brampton had to comply with the Building Code and Fire Code when the City approved them. If the
owner afterwards modified the home or added more units, the owner would have had to get a building permit and arrange for City staff to inspect
the property before construction could begin.
The current zoning of City of Brampton with an estimated 30,000 illegal basement apartments, does not permit new basement apartments.
According to the current zoning by-law If you did not have a basement apartment in your home before November 16, 1995, you cannot add one
Currently you have to request the City of Brampton to change the zoning bylaw before it can permit a new basement apartment. Requesting the
City of Brampton to change the zoning bylaw requires you to submit a zoning bylaw amendment application and a fee of $7,759 to the City’s
Planning, Design and Development Department. The staff of the department will process your application and recommend whether City Council
should approve your application to change the zoning bylaw. The rezoning process includes:
City staff holding a public meeting to allow anyone living within 800 meters of your property line -- or any other person interested in your
application -- to comment.
You post a sign on the property, detailing the nature of your application.
City Council decides whether to approve or refuse to change the zoning.
You or anyone who attended the public meeting, expressed a view or made a written submission can appeal City Council’s decision on your
zoning application to the Ontario Municipal Board. The zoning amendment process can take about six months to a year to complete. For further
information on how to apply for a zoning amendment, contact the Planning, Design and Development Department at 905-874-2090.
Basement apartments in Brampton will continue to require a rezoning application until policies and zoning by-law provisions to permit them are in
place as per Bill 140. In response to direction in Bill 140 for municipalities to permit second units, City of Brampton is required to implement
policies in the Official Plan and performance standards in the Zoning By-law. City of Brampton will modify their by-law to further accommodate Bill
140 and changes to the Planning Act.
Following the release of the Province’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, Planning staff provided a Status Report to Planning, Design
and Development Committee on April 4, 2011, the City staff was directed to propose a course of action for reviewing the City’s Official Plan and
Zoning By-law in order to achieve conformity with the new requirements of the Planning Act. A second Status Report was presented at the
November 21, 2011 Planning, Design and Development Committee meeting, outlining how the City staff plans to implement the legislation
through a policy, by-law and licensing review. The report recommended that a Technical Advisory Committee be established to oversee the
policy review. An inter-departmental team has been created and includes staff from the Chief Administrator's Office, Planning, Building, By-law
Enforcement and Fire & Emergency Services. A Recommendation Report was presented to Committee of Council meeting of May 16, 2012,
seeking direction to proceed with the Open Houses (public consultation sessions) across the City. Five public consultation sessions were held
during the month of June 2012 to receive input on the Second Units Policy Review. The presentations are available in English, Punjabi and
Hindi. Following these sessions, a Public Consultation Summary Report was prepared by Lura Consulting. Two additional Open Houses (public
consultation sessions) were held in May 2013 and June 2013 to provide additional opportunity to comment on the City’s proposed approach for
permitting Second Units in Brampton. A second Recommendation Report was presented to Committee of Council Meeting of June 12, 2013 to
present the results of the Open Houses and a refined approach. A statutory Public Meeting was held on October 7, 2013 to provide the public
an opportunity to comment on the City’s draft Official Plan Amendment and draft Zoning By-law Amendment for permitting second units.
November 2013 - Staff to review public input and agency comments
December 2013 - Staff to prepare a Recommendation Report, including an education strategy and Registration By-law. Council adoption of the
proposed Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment and Registration By-law is anticipated.
For more information on the City’s policy review for basement apartment please contact City of Brampton's Policy Planner, Land Use Policy
Daniella Balasal, by phone 905-874-2061; via fax 905-874-2099; by email email@example.com
City of Burlington - Requirements to legalize basement apartment
Allowed only in detached homes
Minimum Basement Apartment floor Area – 42 m² (452 ft²)
Maximum Basement Apartment floor Area – 30% of the total floor area of the house
Minimum frontage of the Lot 15 m (50 ft)
Minimum rear yard of the Lot - 135 m² (1,453 ft²)
One parking space per basement unit (two parking spaces are required in some instances)
Driveway maximum width– 7.35 m (24 ft) on 15 m (50 ft) lots
Maximum hard surface – 50%
No parking in rear yard
Separate exterior entrance required but prohibited on front elevation
The City of Cambridge - Requirements to approve a legal basement apartment
The City of Cambridge Draft Official Plan – Public Consultation Draft June 2011 220.127.116.11 Residential Lands, Secondary Residential Unit
The City will encourage the establishment of a secondary residential unit within or attached to the existing residential buildings in all zones where
residential uses are permitted without amendment to the City’s Zoning By-law. Secondary residential units must be in accordance with the
a) appropriate parking arrangement can be accommodated on the property;
b) no separate access to a municipal road is required;
c) the secondary residential unit is compatible with neighbouring residential properties and the surrounding residential neighbourhood;
d) adequate potable water and wastewater treatment is available to accommodate the secondary residential unit;
e) the secondary residential unit is subordinate in scale and function to the main dwelling unit; and
f) compliance with the City’s minimum standards of maintenance and occupancy, and other applicable legislation.
Town of East Gwillimbury - Registration of a legal basement apartment
Registration fee for basement apartment is $1,000
City of Guelph - By-law requirements to legalize a basement apartment
Permitted within a single-detached or semi-detached houses
One additional off-street parking space required - must have a double driveway. To avoid street accessibility issues, requiring two parking
spaces to be accessible at all times provides the opportunity for one car from each unit to have
direct access to the roadway.
Maximum size to be 80 m² (860 ft²) and not more than 45% of the principal dwelling’s total floor area
Maximum of two bedrooms
External appearance of the front facade of the house must be preserved
Must preserve front facade
Maintain single entry (i.e. rear yards not to be divided)
Basement Apartment Registration Fee: $100 - But 5-year period without fee to encourage existing units to be legalized
City of Guelph Zoning By-Law
4.15.1 For the purposes of Section 4.15, the following terms shall have the corresponding meaning:
“Floor Area” means the total Floor Area of the Building measured from the exterior face of outside walls, or centre line of common walls, including
Cellars and Basements with a floor to ceiling height of at least 1.95 metres. Floor Area does not include stairs, landings, cold Cellars, Garage
and Carports. Section 2.7 does not apply to the floor to ceiling height of 1.95 metres.
Any Accessory Apartment shall be developed in accordance with the following provisions:
18.104.22.168 The external appearance of all Building Facades and outdoor Amenity Areas shall be preserved except dual service meters shall be
22.214.171.124 An Accessory Apartment shall only be permitted within a Single-Detached or Semi-Detached Dwelling.
126.96.36.199 A maximum of one Accessory Apartment shall be permitted in a Single-Detached Dwelling or in each half of a Semi-Detached Dwelling,
provided that the Single-detached Dwelling of Semi-detached Dwelling is a conforming Use in the Zone in which it is located.
188.8.131.52 Parking for the Accessory Apartment shall be development in accordance with Section 4.13 (4.13 Semi-detached with an Accessory
Apartment: 3 spaces, Single-detached with an Accessory Apartment: 3 spaces).
184.108.40.206.1 Notwithstanding Section 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 the required off-street parking space for an Accessory Apartment may be stacked
behind the required off-street parking space of the host Dwelling in the driveway. A maximum of 2 parking spaces are permitted in a stacked
22.214.171.124 The Accessory Apartment shall not exceed 45% of the total Floor Area of the Building and shall not exceed a maximum of 80 square
metres in Floor Area, whichever is lesser.
126.96.36.199 The Accessory Apartment shall not contain more than two bedrooms.
Town of Georgina - Requirements to legalize a basement apartment
Permitted within a single family home, semi-detached home or townhouse
One basement apartment permitted per lot
Only one entrance to a house is permitted on the front facade
Four parking spaces are required
Not permitted within any house serviced by a private septic system which is located within 100 m of the Lake Simcoe shoreline or any permanent
Not permitted in lands affected by flooding, erosion or located within hazardous lands identified by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation
Authority, unless a permit is issued by the Conservation Authority
City of Hamilton allows to legalize basement apartments
Ward specific - Allowed singles and semi-detached homes, varies by ward
Can be appropriately serviced
Minimum two on-site parking spaces must be provided
No alteration to external appearance
Must preserve streetscape character
No impact on surrounding neighbourhood
Kitchener now allows legal basement apartments
Kitchener already allows for basement apartments in most areas of the city
City of Markham - Legal Basement Apartment Requirements (Proposed Changes as per Bill 140 did NOT get approved)
- Permitted within any single or semi-detached houses
- No additional parking space required
- Must be secondary to primary dwelling
- No more than one basement apartment per lot
- Maximum basement apartment floor area not to exceed 45% of floor area of primary unit (as existed before basement apartment)
- Minimum basement apartment floor area 35 m² (376 ft²)
- Maximum driveway width is equal or greater of
- Garage Door width plus 2 m provided in the case of a lot with a lot frontage less than 10.1 m (33 ft), a minimum of 25% soft landscaping is
provided in the front or exterior yard in which the driveway is located and in the case of a lot with lot frontage 10.1 m (33 ft)or greater, a
minimum of 40% soft landscaping is provided in the front or exterior side yard in which the driveway is located or up to 6.1 m (20 ft),
provided a minimum of 40% soft landscaping is provided in the front or exterior side yard in which the driveway is located.
- Subject to property standards
- Not be conspicuous from the street or change appearance of dwelling
- No entrance through garage door
- Initial inspection by Fire Department $300. Basement Apartment Registration $150
- Inspection and Registration every 3 years
Town of Midland-
Permitted within a single-detached dwelling
One basement apartment per single-detached house
The external appearance of the front facade of the single-detached house or any other facade facing a street on which the lot has frontage shall
Minimum floor area of 35 m² (376 ft²) and shall not exceed 45% of the total floor area of the single-detached house or a maximum of 80 m² (861
ft²) in floor area
Two parking spaces required (one for each dwelling unit)
Basement apartment must be registered with Town of Midland every 3 years
Building permit and inspection fees for existing units waived for a period of 1-year
Town of Milton - Requirements to allow legal basement apartments in Milton
Currently basement apartments in Town of Milton are permitted as per the Zoning By-law 144-2003 section 188.8.131.52 in a single detached houses
only, provided that:
i) Only one basement apartment unit shall be permitted per lot and shall be located within the main house;
ii) A minimum of one parking space per basement apartment unit is provided;
iii) The house must be on full municipal water and waste water services; and,
iv) The basement apartment shall not exceed a maximum size of the 65 m² (700 ft²)
Town of Milton will modify their by-law to further accommodate Bill 140 and changes to the Planning Act. Town of Milton was also designated an
Urban Growth Centre by the Province of Ontario's Places to Grow Plan with which requires Town of Milton to "Intensify" population within a
defined built boundary.
City of Mississauga - Requirements to permit legal basement apartments in Mississauga
Mississauga City Council approved a plan to permit second units on July 3, 2013. The plan includes official plan policies, zoning regulations and
licensing requirements. It will be in full force in January 2014. Legal second units must have a City of Mississauga licence.
To be allowed in city wide - detached, semi-detached and townhouse (maximum one basement apartment per house)
Minimum setback of 1.2 m for new entrances
Basement apartment cannot change existing use of dwelling
Minimum gross floor area of a basement apartment shall be 35m² (377 ft²t)
Basement apartment shall not occupy more than 50% of the gross floor area residential of the dwelling within which it is located
A new pedestrian entrance facing a street or a private road or to facilitate a second unit, shall not be permitted;One on-site parking space for
basement apartment in addition to required parking for dwelling. Tandem parking spaces to accommodate a basement apartment shall be
Only one driveway per lot
Prohibit new entrances facing street
Prohibit exterior entrance above first floor
Prohibit stairs, stairwells for entrances below grade facing a street
Registration of Basement Apartment $500 for owner occupied home & $1,000 for investment property
Investment license would require minor variance
The following documents are also required to apply for licence for a basement apartment.
Letter from the Fire Chief stating that an inspection has been conducted of the location, within thirty (30) days of the date the application for the
Licence is submitted, and it is in compliance with all the provisions of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, S.O. 1997;
Certificate of Inspection report issued by the Electrical Safety Authority certifying that an inspection has been conducted on the location, within
thirty (30) days of the date the application for the Licence, and that there are no visible fire , shock or electrical safety hazards and the property
is in compliance with the requirements of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
Proof of Insurance which the Owner shall take out and keep in full force and effect throughout the term of the Licence and any renewals thereof,
general liability insurance in respect to the
Second Unit against claims for personal injury, death or property damage or loss, indemnifying and protecting the Owner, their respective
employees, servants, agents, contractors, invitees or licensees, to the inclusive limit of not less than Two Million ($2,000,000) Dollars on a per
occurrence basis. Such insurance shall specifically state by its wording or by endorsement that:
(i) The Corporation of the City of Mississauga is included as an additional insured under the policy; and
Such policy shall not be terminated, cancelled or materially altered unless written notice of such termination, cancellation or material alteration is
provided by the insurers to the Corporation of the City of Mississauga at least thirty (30) clear days before the effective date thereof
Every Owner shall:
(a) Keep and maintain the following written records and shall make these records available for inspection forthwith on the request of the Licence
Manager or Officer:
(b) The full name of the Tenant(s);
(c) Records of inspections every three (3) months for Investor-Dwellings.
(d) Post a fire safety plan, approved by the Fire Chief in a conspicuous place in the Second Unit.
(e) Ensure that each floor of the Dwelling is equipped with a functioning Fire Extinguisher.
(f) Provide written proof that the Tenants have been advised that the Licence Manager or Officer will be requesting permission to enter all
Second Units on the Property (at a time and day convenient to the City, the Licensee and the Tenants) for the purposes of conducting
inspections under this By-law.
(g) Maintain compliance with all applicable provisions of the Zoning By-law as it relates to a Second Unit, including any conditions imposed by the
Committee of Adjustment for a minor variance.
(h) Either personally or by their Agent, conduct an inspection of the Investor- Dwellings every three (3) months to ensure compliance with this By-
law and any other applicable law and file an inspection report on the form provided by the Licensing Section including all remediation action to be
taken, and a time frame for gaining compliance where non-compliance is
found by March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31 of each calendar year.
(i) Submit in writing, the name, address and contact information for any individual that will be acting as their Agent for the purposes of conducting
and reporting on inspections, where applicable.
(j) Ensure that the current Business Licence Number for the Licenced Dwelling appears on all advertisement for the business.
No Licenced Owner shall:
(a) Permit the occupancy of, for sleeping purposes, any basement or any space used or designed to be used as a lobby, hallway, closet,
bathroom, laundry room, stairway or kitchen or any room having a floor area of less than 80 square feet or any room being less than 7 feet 6
inches from the floor to ceiling.
(b) Permit non-compliance with the Property Standards By-law, the Nuisance Weeds and Long Grass By-law, the Nuisance Noise By-law, the
Nuisance Lighting By-law, Open Air Burning, the Noise Control By-law and all other applicable by-laws and applicable provincial laws including
but not limited to the Building Code Act, the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
(c) Permit the construction, renovation, alteration or addition is carried out on the Licensed Dwelling without first obtaining the necessary Building
Permit as may be required.
Town of Newmarket - Requirements for approval of basement apartments in Newmarket
Permitted city wide in all single family or two family zone (in single detached, semi-detached, or row house dwellings)
Residences with basement apartments are required to have a minimum of four exterior parking spaces (not including the garage). To obtain
additional parking spaces contact the Town's Planning department at 905-953-5300 ext. 2450 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A smaller parking
space size 2.6m x 5.7m is used to provide more ‘wiggle’ room to accommodate the four required parking spaces in Newmarket. The Town of
Newmarket Committee of Adjustment has approved three applications for a reduction in number of parking spaces since 2003 when the recent
policies were implemented. Four parking space requirement precludes basement apartments within some of the newer residential
developments, due to smaller lots restricting the ability to widen driveways.
The primary dwelling and basement apartment must be serviced by full municipal water and sewer
Front facade shall not be altered. The external appearance of the house must not be altered
No new basement apartments will be permitted within the Environmental Protection Open Space (OS-EP) Zone or within the Floodplain and Other
Natural Hazards (FP-NH) Zone as delineated by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.
Basement Apartment must locate within main dwelling
Daycare is not permitted in the basement apartment
In 2013, The Town of Newmarket passed an amended By-law 2013-13 which requires all residences with basement apartments to register their
units through a one-time application process with the Town of Newmarket's Legislative Services Department. When you register your basement
apartment, you will receive a small "N" plate (N for Newmarket) to put on the front of your home which identifies that the residence has a
basement apartment. The basement apartment will also be assigned the letter "B" in the primary home address, to show it is a separate
residence. In case of emergency, the "N" plate and the "B" address will help emergency responders to know there are two units in the home -
saving time and potentially saving lives. Additionally, houses with an "N" plate are entitled to put out more garbage (from three bags per
household to six) and recycling items on their collection weeks, which also improves overall health and safety in the home.
To register your basement apartment, you must:
Complete an application form or get a hard copy at the Town's Municipal Offices located 395 Mulock Drive Newmarket
Pay the one -time application fee ($250+ HST= $282.50) at the Legislative Services desk at the Town's Municipal Offices, 395 Mulock Drive
File the appropriate documents and pay the applicable fees from the Fire Department and Electrical Safety Authority or a final building permit
Ensure there are no outstanding orders, notices or charges under the Property standards, garbage by-laws, zoning Bylaws.
The Town of Newmarket has a registration list containing all units that are registered. This list can be accessed by the public by calling the
Legislative Services Department at 905-953-5300 ext. 2220
For more information on registering your basement apartment call 905-895-5193 or email@example.com. Each dwelling unit in a two-unit house
shall be inspected by an Inspector to ensure that it complies with all relevant standards set out in
(a) the Ontario Building Code,
(b) the Ontario Fire Code,
(c) the Town’s Zoning By-law 2010-40, as amended,
(d) the Town’s Property Standards By-law 1999-34, as amended and,
(e) the Ontario Electrical Code.
In the event a dwelling unit has previously been inspected, only material changes completed after the initial inspection will be inspected.
City of Niagara Falls
Official Plan – Amended May 2011
4.6 Housing Strategy
An accessory apartment shall be permitted within a single detached dwelling in all residential areas provided that following criteria can be
4.6.1 The accessory apartment is subordinate in size to the principal use.
4.6.2 The lot size and configuration are sufficient to accommodate adequate parking, green space and amenity areas.
4.6.3 The building age and condition are capable of supporting the intensified use and requirements of the Building Code and Maintenance and
Occupancy Standards By-law can be satisfied.
4.6.4 Any proposed building addition for an accessory apartment satisfies the single detached zoning requirements relative to height, setbacks
and coverage for the entire dwelling and shall not detract from or alter the building form and/or character of the area.
Town of Oakville
Oakville allows basement apartments in some areas. The current registration fee for a basement apartment is $300. In certain areas of town, like
North Oakville, they’re allowed because they fit. Other places where basement apartments don’t fit, they’re not allowed. Basement apartments
are allowed in newer areas, such as the burgeoning communities along Dundas Street.
Under the Livable Oakville Plan, Town of Oakville will modify its by-law to further accommodate Bill 140 and changes to the Planning Act.
Establishing zoning regulations regarding location and additional requirements for basement apartments remains the responsibility of the Town
Town wide (currently only specific zones permit legal basement apartments)
Town of Oakville's review of best practices identified that most zoning by-laws place a maximum size on basement apartment with additional
clauses dealing with design and compatibility measures (i.e. prohibiting a separate access to the accessory dwelling unit on the main front wall of
the detached dwelling), required minimum one parking space for the basement apartment, and additional location restrictions.
Town of Oakville's staff is recommending the first draft Zoning By-law permit one basement apartment within either a detached or semi-detached
house with a total floor area not exceeding a maximum of 30% of the floor area of the house which would include the area of a basement. In
addition, a separate entrance to the unit will be prohibited on the main front wall of the house thereby maintaining the existing character of the
house. The intent is to encourage an entrance through a common vestibule in order to maintain the single dwelling unit appearance of the house.
Town of Pickering - Requirements to legalize basement apartment
- Allowed only in singles and semi-detached homes
- Basement Apartment must be smaller than primary
- Maximum Basement Apartment floor Area 100 m² (1,076 ft²)
- No home-based business - Home-based business is prohibited in either dwelling unit of a
- dwelling containing a basement apartment
- Three on site parking spaces required
- Basement Apartment Registration Fee: $500
- Must demonstrate compliance under Ontario Fire Code
Town of Richmond Hill
Requirements to legalize basement apartment are still under development
To be allowed city wide in detached and semi detached homes
Maximum basement apartment floor area must not exceed 265m² (2,853 ft²)
Minimum frontage 9 m (30 ft)
Minimum lot area 30%
Minimum one additional parking space
Only one driveway apron shall be permitted to a lot with a frontage of less than 18 m (59 ft)
Driveway maximum – depends on lot size
Maximum hard surface – 55%
City of Toronto
The City of Toronto Zoning By-law – August 2010
- Allowed city wide in single & semi-detached homes
- Must be at least 5 years old
- No less than 55 m² (592 ft²) in size
- Must be secondary in size to principle unit
- Minimum one parking space per unit
- Where two parking spaces required, one may be used for the basement apartment
- No additional or substantial alteration to exterior appearance of front or side of unit facing street is allowed.
10.5.80.10 Parking Location
…in the Residential Zone category a required parking space for a secondary suite in a detached house, semi-detached house or townhouse, or
for the dwelling units in a duplex, may be a parking space in tandem with another required parking space.
150.10.20 Use Regulations
A secondary suite may be located only in:
a) a detached house;
b) a semi-detached house; and
c) a townhouse if it is in an R zone.
Within a detached house or semi-detached house, each dwelling unit may have a maximum of one secondary suite.
In an R Zone, a dwelling unit in a townhouse may have a maximum of one secondary suite.
…other than an R zone with a numerical value of 2 following the letter ‘u’ in the zone label, a residential building originally constructed as a
detached house or a semi-detached house may be converted to contain more than one secondary suite.
A secondary suite is permitted within an existing legal non-conforming detached house or semi-detached house, if:
a) all applicable secondary suite regulations area met; and
b) there is no expansion or enlargement of the non-conforming use.
150.10.40 Building Regulations
1) The whole of a building containing a secondary suite must have been constructed more than 5 years prior to the introduction of the secondary
suite, excluding additions or alterations described in 184.108.40.206 (2).
2) a) An addition or alteration to a building to accommodate a secondary suite is permitted if it does not alter or add to a main wall or roof that
faces a street.
b) Despite a) above, the following additions or alterations may be on a main wall or roof the faces a street:
i) a porch or a basement extension beneath a porch;
ii) a balcony; and
iii) a dormer, if the interior floor area of the dormer is not more than 2.3 sq. m. and the total interior floor area of all dormers is not more than 9.3
3) If a building or a lot in a Residential Zone Category is not subject to a maximum gross floor area or floor space index, a secondary suite must
not be divided vertically from the principal dwelling unit, unless the secondary suite occupies part of one existing storey or part of the existing
220.127.116.11 Floor Area
The interior floor area of a secondary suite must be less than the interior floor area of the principal dwelling unity.
In a R zone, a residential building may only be converted to contain 2 or more secondary suites in accordance with 150.10.20 if:
a) the building has a minimum interior floor area of 460 square metres; and
b) the principal dwelling unit and each secondary suite must have an interior floor area no less than 55 sq. m., except in the case of an attic
converted to a secondary suite which must have an interior floor area no less than 42 sq. m.
City of Vaughan
Requirements to legalize basement apartment are still under development
Town of Whitby
Minimum Lot Frontage: 10.5 m (35 ft) for single detached homes 10 m (33 ft) for semi-detached homes
Floor area of the basement apartment should not exceed 45% of the total area of the house.
40% of the front yard should be kept as landscaped ope space
Must be serviced by municipal water and sewer services.
Minimum three parking spaces and two parking spaces should be accessed at all times.- To avoid street accessibility issues, requiring two
parking spaces to be accessible at all times provides the opportunity for one car from each unit to have
direct access to the roadway.
Home based occupations and business are prohibited in both dwelling unit as well as the basement apartment.
In the case of the house and the basement apartment sharing a forced air heating system, the smoke alarms must be tied to a relay switch which
will turn off the furnace fan and the natural gas valve when the smoke alarms are activated.
Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville
When the New Comprehensive Zoning By-law is ratified, the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville will permit the construction of basement apartments
through a registration process administered by the Clerk’s Department. For more information, please call the Licensing & Public Services
Coordinator at 905-640-1910 ext. 2225.Three parking spaces exterior to the garage are required
No more than one dwelling entrance is contained within any main wall facing a street.
Home occupations are prohibited on any lot containing a basement apartment in either the dwelling or the basement apartment.
How can I get my basement apartment approved and make it legal?
Whether or not any construction takes place, the conversion of a home to a two-unit residential occupancy will
require a building permit.
We will visit your home, measure and prepare proper drawings and submit to the municipality to obtain the
municipal building permit to construct or legalize basement apartment. The drawings are prepared by licensed
professional engineers (P.Eng) and it will cost $1,195 which includes up to two site visits. If required additional
site visits after the 2nd site visit will cost additional $195 per site visit.
If you need engineering drawings to construct or legalize a separate entrance to the basement apartment, it will
cost $1,195 which includes up to two site visits. Additional visits cost $195 per visit. $600 discount will apply if we
prepare the drawings to legalize the basement apartment at the same site.
If required by the Municipal Authorities, HVAC Heat Loss/ Gain and Duct Sizing Calculations by a Licensed
Professional Mechanical Engineer will cost additional $750
Call Us Anytime 416 332 1743;
Text message to @ 416 727 8336
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Typical Required Documents and the Associated Costs
Legal Survey from $2,300
Topographical Survey from $2,300
Site Plans from $1,500
Site Servicing Plans from $2,500
Site Grading Plans- from $2,500
Stormwater Management Plan from $2,500
Traffic Study & Assessment from $5,000
Arborist's Report from $500
Landscape Architect's Design from $1,750
Ecologit's Report (Required for Conservation Authority) - from $12,000
Slope Stability Report (Required for Conservation Authority) - from $9,000
Record of Site Conditions- (Required for Zoning Changes for Residential Developments) - From $9,000
Geotechnical Report -(Required to design footings, stormwater management and septic system) - from $7,000
Environmental Site Assessment Report (Phase 1- from $2,500; Phase 2 from $7.000) - Required by Municipalities & Lenders
Building Permit Drawings:
Architectural Drawings from $5,000
Structural Drawings from $5,500
Mechanical Drawings from $5,000
Plumbing Drawings from $2,500
Electrical Drawings from $4,500
Fire Safety Drawings from $4,500
Sprinkler Design from $5,000