Secondary Suites Popular in New Construction

by | Nov 11, 2019 | Rental Property Management Tips

In the midst of a rental housing shortage, lawmakers are giving the green light to homeowners to open suites — in basements, back rooms, and garages — to tenants.

Ontario recently sought to lessen the regulatory burden of bringing these units up to code. But it appears there is no rush on the part of property owners.

In Windsor, for example, a news report indicates that only about a dozen permits for secondary suites are pending.

Retrofits are costly. Building codes cover everything from ceiling height to window size to fire separation and bringing a property up to that standard might not be economically feasible.

But of the permits filed in Windsor, half are for new construction, according to the report. While private owners may be hesitant, builders are seeing the value of adding in an in-law suite so new homeowners can enjoy a turnkey apartment — and instant income. Meeting code requirements is significantly easier and less expensive in new builds.

According to, builders in Edmonton also are taking advantage of that city’s decision to allow secondary suites. A builder there is incorporating a 700 sq. ft basement suite with a separate entry into its floor plan for new homes.

Because secondary suites are being actively promoted, it’s important for property owners to understand that turning an idle basement into rental income is not as simple as painting the walls and running an ad. In fact, many secondary suites already in service are illegal, and that creates significant risks for homeowners.

If you are an aspiring landlord mulling the idea of turning a suite in your home into an income stream — even if you own new construction, keep this in mind:

Check local bylaws to see if the suite is allowed and what conditions must be met to bring in renters;

Consult your insurance agent to determine if the property coverage will need to be modified to allow for a renter. Charging rent may increase liability;

Don’t rent out an illegal unit or offer a tenant cheap rent in exchange for their silence. That plan will backfire;

A secondary suite may seem like an informal arrangement, but tenancy rules still apply. Tenants need to be properly screened to avoid income loss. No one wants to wait out the weeks-long eviction process while a nightmare tenant remains in the same house.

Take the job of landlord seriously even though the “business” is also your home. Do the research on tenancy laws or join a local landlord association and take advantage of mentors in your area.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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