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Second Suites in Toronto

In response to the shortage of affordable housing in the Toronto area, Toronto City Council passed a by-law in 2000 that legalized second suites, also known as granny flats or accessory apartments.

Second suites are now legal in the City of Toronto in all single family detached and semi-detached homes, as long as they comply with the rules set out in the bylaw as well as construction / fire regulation.

This article is provided by Nick Boothby for general information only and should not be considered as legal advice.

In this case a second suite is a self-contained unit in a single-detached or semi-detached house. Second suite is the term used by the city to talk about granny flats, in law flats, basement apartment, accessory apartment. It refers to an apartment added to your home for which you may or may not get rent.

Second suites are typically added to help pay the mortgage, house parents or grown children, provide a home for a nanny, or provide a sense of security for a person living alone in a home by having an extra person or persons under the same roof. The idea of second suites is not new and has been permitted in parts of Toronto before but the by-law now makes it possible in all Toronto.

This change caused some alarm to various groups of citizens who expressed concern that the character of their neighbourhood would be changed or damaged by having lots of basement apartment appearing all of a sudden. The by-law is very specific about not changing the appearance of the front (or side if the home is on a corner lot) of the home.

The by-law permits second suites in all single-detached and semi-detached homes in the (amalgamated) City of Toronto providing conditions are met:

  • The house, including any additions, must be 5 years old or more.
  • The second suite must be self-contained with its own kitchen and bathroom.
  • The area of the second suite must be smaller than the main part of the home.
  • Homes with a second suite must have an extra parking spot for the suite plus one for the home, parking can be in tandem (one behind the other). This rule applies to almost all the areas except for parts of the former City of Toronto (R2, R3 and R4 districts) where only 1 parking space is required for a house with a second suite. The R represents zoning areas. Zoning can be determined by contacting the City of Toronto's Urban Planning and Development Services Department.
  • The front (and side of building if on a corner lot) of the home must not be significantly changed. Contact the City of Toronto's Urban Planning and Development Services Department for more details.
  • All new second suites must comply with the Ontario Building Code (and require a building permit). Existing second suites must comply with the Fire Code as well as zoning and property standards. This can be determined by an inspection by the Fire Department.

There is a fee for the inspection and if the inspection brings any deficiency to light you are responsible for upgrades.

The taxes of the home are not expected to be significantly affected by the addition of a second suite if the suite is contained within the building and no additional area is added. If the suite is added at the time where other construction significantly adds to the value of the home, then taxes would reflect this increase in value. Our taxes in Toronto are based on Market Value Assessment and if market value is not significantly increased then taxes are not significantly increased either.

Toronto & East York Inspection Services


Building permit for Toronto and East York


Etobicoke York District


North York District


Scarborough District


Building permit fees


City Planning


Carson Dunlop, who offers home inspections, provides a good article on basement retrofits.

Call Nick to discuss return on investment on Upgrades for your Home

Nick Boothby's experience in pricing and selling Homes in the Beach will help you decide if an upgrade is worth doing and if you will get a good return on your investment.

Nick Boothby, Maddy Dennett and Greg McDowell
REALTORS® / Salespersons

Christine DeMerchant Unlicenced Support Person
Real Estate Homeward, Brokerage
1858 Queen St. E., Toronto, On, M4L 1H1, Canada
tel: 416-698-2090   fax: 416-693-4284
Maddy's cell: 416-951-5507   Greg's cell: 647-984-3065
emails: Nick   Maddy   Greg   

Disclaimer: Nick Boothby and his team take great care in insuring the accuracy of our facts but some information cannot be verified. We do not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process discussed or presented.