Basement Apartment or a Second Unit - Legal Registration Requirements (Frequently Asked Questions)

On April 22, 2015, City Council approved new policies permitting second units in the City of Brampton. Second units are now permitted in detached, semi-detached and townhouse dwellings, subject to zoning requirements.
Under the new policies:
  • Only one second unit is permitted per house.
  • In a bungalow, the second unit can be up to 75 per cent of the primary unit’s gross floor area (GFA). For all other houses, the second unit can be up to 45 per cent of the primary unit’s GFA.
  • There must be one parking space for the second unit, in addition to the required parking for the primary unit.
  • There must be a 1.2 meter clear path of travel to a door in the side or rear yard that provides access to a second unit.

Second units offer Brampton residents another option for safe, affordable housing, but in order to be legal, they must be registered with the City of Brampton.

Before registration is approved, units must be inspected by the City to ensure they comply with the Ontario Building Code and/or Fire Code; approval from the Electrical Safety Authority is also required. Units must also meet all Zoning and Property Standards regulations.

Homeowners who do not register their second unit with the City may be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 for individuals or $50,000 for a corporation.

To view the staff Recommendation Report presented to the April 13, 2015 Planning and Infrastructure Services Committee, please click here.
To view the presentation please click here.
 
 
What is a second unit?
A second unit is a self-contained residential unit located within a house. It has separate kitchen and bathroom facilities that are used only by the occupant(s) of that unit, and an entrance that is separate from the primary house.
 
You may also see second units referred to as: 
• Basement apartments 
• Two-unit housing
• Granny flats
• In-law suites
• Accessory apartments
• Secondary units/suites
 
Why are second units Legal now?
In 2011, the provincial government introduced changes to the Planning Act through Bill 140, the Strong Communities Through Affordable Housing Act. It requires municipalities to set up policies to permit second units in detached, semi-detached and townhouse dwellings. Brampton City Council approved new policies in April 2015; they will take effect June 22, 2015.
 
What are the benefits of second unt?
Second units provide an affordable housing option for many people. The City of Brampton wants to ensure they’re safe, legal and livable. The registration process ensures that, at the time of registration, second units meet all requirements under the Ontario Building Code, Fire Code and/or Electrical Safety Authority as required.
 
Why do I need to register my second unit with the city?
Second units provide affordable housing for many people, but we want to make sure they’re safe and livable. A registration system helps the City identify the location of second units and confirm that, at the time of registration, the second unit met all safety and building requirements.
 
What is the process for registration?
Second units are now permitted in detached, semi-detached and townhouse dwellings, subject to zoning requirements and restrictions. In order to be legal, second units must be registered with the City of Brampton.
For information on registration requirements, please click the following link:
 
How large a second unit can be?
If your house is a bungalow, the second unit can be up to 75 per cent of the primary unit’s gross floor area (GFA). For all other houses, the second unit can be no more than 45 per cent of the primary unit’s GFA.
Note: GFA is the total area of each floor of your house, not including: 
• Unfinished basement/cellar
• Garage/carport
• Porch/balcony
• Floor area used for mechanical or electrical equipment
 
Do I need to provide parking?
Yes. One on-site parking space must be provided for a second unit in addition to the parking space(s) required for the primary dwelling.
 
Can the entrance to my second unit be at the side or rear of my home?
Yes, as long as the entire side yard is at least 1.2 meters (4 feet) wide. This is to provide safe entry/exit from the unit, and to allow access for emergency services.
Most houses in Brampton have 1.2 meters on at least one side. For houses that don’t, access to the second unit can be provided from inside the garage or through a common foyer inside the house.
 
Will I need to provide proof of Insurance in order to register my second unit?
Yes, you will be required to provide proof of insurance, including the name of your insurance company and the policy number.
As a landlord, it’s important that you have proper home insurance coverage. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, if something were to happen – such as a fire in your second unit – and your insurance provider is unaware that you have a tenant living there, your policy could be voided. For more information on insurance, visit www.ibc.ca
 
What happens if I don't register my second unit?
Homeowners who don’t register their second unit with the City of Brampton may be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for a corporation.
How much will it cost to register?
The fees for registering a second unit are as follows: 
• Initial review for zoning compliance – $200 (non-refundable)
• Registration fee: 
   o $500 (owner-occupied dwelling) or
   o $1,000 (non-owner occupied)
• Applicable building permit fees – approximately $1,000
 
When can I register my second unit?
The registration program has begun dated June 22, 2015.
 
Municipalities are responsible for determining what standards or zoning provisions should apply to second units with regards to matters such as minimum unit size or parking requirements. Second units must comply with all other applicable laws and requirements, including Building Code, Fire Code, and property standards. The proposed changes would not “grandfather” (or legalize) any existing second unit that does not meet these requirements. For more information on changes to the Planning Act and on second units visit theMinistry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Varinder Puaar

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CENTURY 21 Legacy Ltd., Brokerage*
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