What is a basement apartment (or “secondary suite”)?
A basement apartment is a self-contained apartment consisting of a room or rooms in a single or semidetached house.
A self-contained apartment must have a separate means of entry (which may be through another unit), a kitchen (or cooking area) and bathroom facilities. A self-contained apartment may be as small as a single room that contains all of these features.
What should I know before buying a home with a basement apartment?
Your real estate agent or lawyer must confirm with the City that a home for sale has a legally registered basement apartment or is legally non-conforming and complies with the Building and Fire Codes.
If the city do not find enough evidence that the home had a basement apartment before November 16, 1995, the City will require the homeowner to dismantle the unit or face prosecution.
A code of conduct requires real estate agents to fully and fairly disclose all information about a property for sale. Typically, real estate agents use the caution “Vendor does not warrant retrofit status” when listing homes with doubtful legal status. Consumers should seek further legal advice before offering to buy these homes.
RICHMOND HILL, VAUGHAN, BRAMPTON, MISSISSAUGA, MARKHAM - These cities’ zoning bylaws do not permit new basement apartments. If you did not have a basement apartment in your home before November 16, 1995, you cannot add one. A home built after 1995 can never have a legal basement apartment. Existing second suites built on or before November 16, 1995 must comply with the Fire Code as well as zoning and property standards.
TORONTO, AJAX, PICKERING – All new second suites must comply with the Fire Code, Ontario Building Code and require a building permit. Existing second suites must comply with the Fire Code as well as zoning and property standards.