Second dwellings are the City of Mississauga’s answer to affordable housing. For example, a homeowner can rent their basement to defer some of the cost of ownership and in turn provide affordable housing to those who require rental housing. As lawyers we are of course wondering what is the legality behind all of this? We did our research and here are our findings:
First of all, lets address what a “Second Dwelling” actually is:
According the the City of Mississauga, a Second Dwelling is a “self contained living unit within a detached, semi-detached house or townhouse.”
If you have a basement apartment or a second unit in your Mississauga home, you are legally required to obtain a second unit license. The fee for said license is dependent upon whether or not you live in the home with the second unit. Further, each year the license must be renewed.
Of particular interest, the City of Mississauga has published a list of licensed secondary units in the City. At the time of writing this article, this list is merely 121 items long. What does this mean? In a City with a population of 712,443, it may be safe to assume that some of the secondary dwellings that are currently in existence are in fact, illegal.
What is the logic behind licensing secondary dwellings? The main objective here is safety. All licensed units must have a fire inspection done and a letter from the Fire Chief must confirm that the unit is in compliance with the Fire Code. Approvals must also be obtained from the Planning and Building Department, the Electrical Safety Authority and from Building Inspections. This keeps not only the owners safe, but also the tenants.
In order to be compliant with the By-Law the second dwelling must be licensed. This is also important to keep in mind when you are thinking buying a property that advertises a basement apartment. The fee for the inspections plus the license fee and renewal fee can be a significant expense.
For more information, please feel free to contact us. www.ontariolawyer.com
- Second Unit Licensing By-law: http://www7.mississauga.ca/documents/ByLaws/second_unit_licensing.pdf
- Second Unit Information Package from the City of Mississauga: http://www6.mississauga.ca/onlinemaps/planbldg/HousingChoices/SecondUnitInformationPKG.pdf