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A secondary suite is a separate living area contained within a single-family dwelling and functions as a self-contained living unit complete with a kitchen, bathroom and at least one bedroom. It may share common space on the same floor with the primary residence, for example, a laundry room. The suite must also have at least one access door leading directly outside the dwelling.
A secondary suite is not a separate housing unit with its own Certificate of Title, nor can it be stratified similar to a duplex or townhouse unit. A suite will not be assigned a separate address by the City or be eligible for separate services, such as garbage and recycling.
Most single-family homes, or lots zoned for single-family dwellings would be permitted to have a secondary suite. A secondary suite may only be located in a single family dwelling. A single family dwelling may not contain more than one secondary suite. All secondary suites require building permits to be legal.
There are numerous advantages to legalizing a secondary suite in your home. Most relate to the protection of your financial investment, but more importantly, the safety of your home’s occupants - both your family and your tenants:
Considerations may include elements to reduce costs, construction time and inconvenience, as well as improve space and efficiency:
A secondary suite will generate additional usage of services. Here is what you can expect:
Before starting any construction work associated with your secondary suite, you will need a Building Permit. In order to apply for a Building Permit, you must be the owner of the property or produce a Letter of Agent Authorization (PDF) if you are not the owner. You will also need a completed Secondary Suite Permit Checklist (DOC).
Depending on the age of your home or building, for a fee, the Building Division may have a record of your plans and/or form survey. To enquire, please email Building Permits. Please note:
If your suite was built without building or plumbing permits and you do not want to legalize it, you can remove the suite and take advantage of this space for your own personal use. You may still require building and plumbing permits for any work that was done to your home after it was originally built. If you are unsure if your secondary suite or basement finish is legal, please email the Building Division. If you have a legal secondary suite and no longer wish to rent it out, you can decommission it. The benefits to you are the additional space available for your personal use and that you will no longer be charged the 40% tax surcharge that was added to your utility bill.
Important: Ensure fire safety standards in the bedroom or sleeping area of the decommissioned suite meet current standards. The requirement for smoke alarms is mandatory in homes built after December 1981, and is strongly recommended in all homes irrespective of age.
You must apply for suite removal by December 31 to qualify for an adjustment in the next year.
Choose from one of the following options to remove a secondary suite: