Buyers beware long-standing by laws may surprise home owners

Ontarians who plan to renovate a newly purchased home may have to pay more attentions with some of the municipal bylaws.  Some long-standing bylaws may prevent certain types of renovations or other plans.  Here is the suggestion from


Buyers beware long-standing bylaws may surprise homeowners

    Some of Ontario's municipal bylaws may seem silly and are rarely enforced. But Ontario realtors are recommending property owners take note of those that could derail their plans when moving.

    Ontarians who plan to renovate a newly purchased home- whether a post-war era bungalows, century-old farmhouse or condo unit-may be in for a surprise as plans get underway. Depending on the municipality, long-standing bylaws may prevent certain types of renovations or other plans, like renting a basement apartment, for the property.

   " What are the homebuyer's plans for their future residence? That's a question I always ask my clients," says Ron Abraham, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association, which represents 53,000 brokers and salespeople who are members of the 42 real estate boards throughout the province.

     "For instance, someone buying a 50-year-old home that's never been renovated will likely want to update it or demolish and build an entirely new house," says Abraham. " There are many bylaws that deal specifically with home renovations and new builds , so homebuyers need to be aware of the ones that may affect their structural plans before starting on a project to avoid problems down the road."

      Zoning bylaws respond to issues common to renovations and new builds and can guide whether any of these, for example, are allowed: a below-grade garage; dividing a mutual driveway; the number of windows allowed in a house; construction of a basement apartment; or adding a backyard deck.

» Tree conservation bylaws: Enforced by many of Ontario's 444 municipalities, a tree conservation bylaw may prevent a homeowner from removing a tree that infringes on plans for a new home or renovation.

» Garage sale bylaws: A maximum of two yard sales per year are permitted in most municipalities and may not exceed two consecutive days. Homeowners in violation of these terms are guilty of an offence according to several municipal codes.

" Navigating the bylaws can be overwhelming and even intimidating for homebuyers," says Abraham. "Most homeowners may never encounter any issues with their municipalities. However,  it's still good practice to discuss future home plans with your realtor since they are trained to make the home buying process smooth and simple."

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Eric Tiftikci

Eric Tiftikci

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CENTURY 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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