Is It Legal To Add A Basement Suite To My Home?
Are you looking to rent out a secondary suite or basement apartment in Canada, but aren’t sure if it’s legal? It’s important to understand the laws and regulations governing these types of rental units. Else, you may have potential fines or legal issues.
In this blog, we’ll provide a clear definition of what constitutes a secondary suite and a basement apartment. We will discuss the zoning laws and building codes that apply to them. We will also explain the permits and approvals that may be required in order to operate one legally.
The Definition Of A Secondary Suite
First, let’s define what we mean by a secondary suite and a basement apartment. A secondary suite is a self-contained living space within a single-family home. This could be a converted attic, basement, or garage, for example. A basement apartment is a rental unit that is located in the basement of a multi-unit building, like a triplex.
The Legality Of A Secondary Suite & Zoning Laws
When it comes to the legality of secondary suites and basement apartments, the most important thing to consider is the zoning laws and regulations in your area. These laws dictate where different types of buildings and uses are allowed. They can vary depending on the city or town where you live. In some cases, secondary suites and basement apartments may be permitted in certain residential zones, while in others they may be prohibited altogether. It’s important to check with your local government to determine the zoning laws that apply to your property.
In addition to zoning laws, you also need to meet building codes and safety requirements in order to legally operate a basement suite. These codes ensure that the unit is safe for occupants and meets minimum standards for things like fire safety, electrical wiring, and plumbing. It’s important to ensure that your rental unit meets these requirements in order to avoid any potential legal issues.
Typically, the legal concerns are:
- The dimensions of the rooms, ceiling heights, and number of windows in the unit
- The number and location of exits and emergency escapes in the unit
- Where a secondary suite is allowed
- The fire safety measures, such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, in the unit
- The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in the unit
- The plumbing, electrical, and lighting systems in the unit
The Permits And Approvals Required
You may need to obtain certain permits and approvals in order to legally operate a secondary suite or basement apartment. This could include a building permit for any construction or renovations that are required. This might also require a business license if you plan to rent the unit out on a regular basis. Again, it’s important to check with your local government to determine the specific permits and approvals required in your area.
What Do I Risk If I Create An Illegal Suite?
If you have an illegal suite, you may face penalties, fines or even prison from your local government. Depending on the laws and regulations in your area, you may be required to bring the unit up to code. You could be asked to shut it down. In some cases, you may also be subject to legal action from tenants or neighbors who are affected by the illegal suite. It’s important to make sure that your rental unit is legal in order to avoid these potential consequences.
In conclusion, if you’re considering renting out a secondary suite or basement apartment in Canada, it’s crucial to understand the laws and regulations that apply to these types of rental units. Make sure to check the zoning laws and building codes in your area, and obtain any necessary permits and approvals in order to operate your rental unit legally. By taking these steps, you can avoid potential fines or legal issues and ensure that your rental unit is safe and compliant.