A new way to live in the city: A look at the Toronto Laneway Suites Initiative
Finally, a use for those unused laneways in Toronto! Learn how to take advantage of Toronto’s Laneway Suite Initiative, which is changing the face of Toronto living!
The Laneway Suites Initiative, proposed by the City of Toronto, provides a fresh and innovative approach to accommodating the ever-growing population in Toronto. This initiative allows for the development of affordable housing within the boundaries of the city while giving current inhabitants the opportunity to generate an additional income, in addition to enhancing the value of their properties.
As a Toronto homeowner, we know you’re always looking for new and original ways to make your property more valuable and increase your income! Having said that, taking part in this new initiative provides you with the chance to raise the value of your home and earn additional income while also bringing new homes to your community. That’s a win-win-win in our eyes!
While there are a variety of large-scale home renovations or upgrades that can be made in an effort to increase the value of your home, very few allow for the immediate benefits you will receive from constructing a laneway suite on your property! To that end, the Toronto Laneway Suites Initiative presents a fantastic opportunity for any Toronto homeowner interested in making a long-term investment that will boost the market value of their home while giving them the chance to build a rental unit on their property and earn a reliable additional income!
With that in mind, this article aims to inform you of everything you need to know about the new laneway suite initiative proposed by the City of Toronto, with guidance from the Toronto renovation contractors at Milman Design Build. In particular, this article will discuss what laneway suites are, incentive programs for the construction of laneway suites, design requirements, in addition to building and permit requirements, and lastly, the cost of building a laneway suite in Toronto. Having said that, let us dive in, with specifics on what laneway suites are. Please read on to learn more.
What Are Laneway Suites?
A laneway suite, also commonly referred to as a laneway house, is a self-contained residential unit. The unit is typically situated on the same property as a detached house, a semi-detached dwelling, a townhouse, or other low-rise house. These new and innovative dwellings are often smaller in size and completely separate from that of the primary residence on the lot, because they are constructed in place of the garage or carport in the backyard next to a public laneway.
What’s more, a laneway suite is a self-contained living arrangement for a person or people living together as a separate single housekeeping unit, in which both food preparation and sanitary facilities are provided for the exclusive use of the occupants of the suite. To that end, laneway housing can be regarded as a supplementary suite or second apartment, which expands the variety of housing alternatives by offering new rental housing options in well-established neighborhoods. Moreover, laneway apartments, according to experts, address underutilized spaces, improve community sustainability, and foster equity for the population.
Incentives Offered for Construction of Laneway Suites
In June 2018, Toronto officials adopted the concept and launched the Laneway Suites Initiative as one of the ways to acquire more affordable housing options for their residences. Since its inception, the City of Toronto has introduced two programs as part of the Laneway Suites Initiative to further encourage qualifying property owners to build secondary laneway suites. These programs are known as the Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program and the Development Charges (DC) Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units. The aim of each of these programs is to provide financial assistance for the construction of laneway suites in the city of Toronto. Details of each programme will be listed below.
That being said, before we dive into the specifics for each of the incentive programs listed below, let us outline everything you need to know before you take advantage of these programs. Please read on to learn more.
- You can receive up to $50,000 in the form of a forgivable loan.
- You must own a single-family home on a public lane.
- You must conform to applicable zoning and other by-laws.
- You must apply for building permits.
- You must join the Affordable Laneway Suites Contribution Agreement.
- You must receive approval for the Development Charges Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units.
NOTE: Work must start within 120 days after getting the confirmation letter, and rent cannot be higher than Toronto’s average market rent. Additionally, the maximum limit on household income is $63,400 for one person and $96,000 for two or more people.
1. The Development Charges (DC) Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units
This programme was first approved by the Council in April of 2018. For qualifying property owners who are building a secondary dwelling unit in their backyard, the Development Charges (DC) Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units offers a DC deferral. Only new lots (Plan of Subdivision, Plan of Condominium, and Consent to Sever) created within 20 years after the issue of the building permit would be eligible for collection of the DC.
Who Can Apply?
In accordance with the Development Charges (DC) Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units, the following qualifications apply:
- Real estate must be situated in a zone that is approved by By-laws 810-2018 and 1210-2019.
- Must be in compliance with any zoning and other bylaws, as established by Toronto Building
- Must have requested a building permit (assisted by your local contractor)
- Must enter into an agreement with the city known as a DC Deferral for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units.
NOTE: Please refrain from paying your development fees if you plan to apply for this program, as the City of Toronto won’t be able to reimburse you for the cost.
2. The Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program
This programme was first approved by the Council in June of 2018. For qualified property owners building laneway suites, the Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program offers money in the form of a forgivable loan of up to $50,000. Having said that, it’s important to note that if your property has previously received funding from the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) or Toronto Renovate Program for repairs, the amount you can receive from this incentive program will be reduced. After 15 years have passed since the first tenant moved into the laneway suite, the loan will be forgiven. During the 15-year affordability period, rent cannot be more than the City of Toronto’s Average Market Rent by Bedroom Type, as published yearly by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Who Can Apply?
In accordance with the Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program, the following qualifications apply:
- Must be the owner of a single-family residence bordering a public lane that is situated in a zone authorized by By-laws 810-2018 and 1210-2019.
- Must adhere to all zoning and other bylaws that are relevant, as determined by Toronto Building through a zoning certificate or building permit.
- Must have requested a building permit (assisted by your local contractor)
- Must sign into a Contribution Agreement for Affordable Laneway Suites with the City.
- Must receive approval for the Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Unit Development Charges Deferral Program.
NOTE: Until you receive a letter confirming that all the money has been granted, you must wait to begin any work on site after the application and approval processes. Then, within 120 days of the day you initially received the confirmation notice in the mail, work must start. To secure the loan, a mortgage or charge must be recorded on the title of your home, and you must obtain the consent of the existing mortgagee(s).
Design Requirements for Building Laneway Suites in Toronto
When it comes to constructing a laneway suite in Toronto, there are a few design requirements every homeowner should be aware of. The standards for setbacks from property lines, distance from the main dwelling, and soft landscaping for the property are the important design elements to pay attention to. There are also specific regulations on building height dependent on the size and layout of your current home, as well as limitations on the second storey’s shape (or even its presence) if the Laneway Suite is too close to the Principal Residential Building. That being said, the by-law has some provisions that provide for design flexibility for laneway suites. They are as follows:
- The total floor area permitted on the lot does not include the floor area of Laneway Suites.
- While there are no automobile parking requirements for Laneway Suites, they do need at least two bike parking spaces within the buildable area permitted by the setbacks (inside or outside the building).
- Additionally, there is no need for any parking spaces on any lot that has a Laneway Suite. So, if you give up a garage parking spot to establish a suite, you don’t have to be concerned about getting into trouble.
For assistance in determining if your property meets the City of Toronto’s requirements for constructing a laneway suite in your neighborhood, the Toronto renovation contractors at Milman Design Build can complete an on-site evaluation of your property to determine if it qualifies. Contact them today to set up a free estimate.
Permit Requirements and Building Rules for Toronto’s Laneway Suites Initiative
Prior to September 2018, laneway housing was allowed under Toronto’s zoning code amongst the East York Districts, but after the pilot projects’ success, the city added laneway suites to its zoning bylaw. As a result, in the summer of 2019, laneway suites were permitted to be built throughout the entire city of Toronto. The only limited region in the city is bounded by Avenue Road, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Limited rail corridor, Yonge Street, Rosedale Valley Road, Sherbourne Street, Bloor Street East, and Bloor Street West.
What’s more, the following requirements must be met for the City of Toronto to permit the building of Laneway Suites on residential properties that border a public lane:
- By-law requirements for Laneway Suites
- Applying for a Building Permit for a Laneway Suite
- Development Charge Deferral Program and Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program
NOTE: According to Ontario Building Code Division B.22.214.171.124, every Laneway Suites must have principal access and fire access (Div. B. 126.96.36.199).
The Cost of Building a Laneway Suite in Toronto
Now that you have a clear outline of what a laneway suite is, the incentive programmes for construction of laneway suites, design, building, and permit requirements, we can go on to discuss the cost of building a laneway suite in Toronto. With help from the experts at Milman Design Build, it is reasonable to anticipate that the price to construct and finish a laneway suite in Toronto will range from $300,000 to $600,000. Provided that, the cost of constructing a laneway suite is relatively similar to that of constructing any home in Toronto in terms of labor and materials.
That being said, depending on the size and special location of the laneway suite being built, costs can vary greatly. As a result, to better assist you in determining which factors may influence the total cost of constructing a Toronto laneway suite, we have put together a list of the key variables to keep in mind. They are as follows:
- Laneway access
- Infrastructure placement on the property (electrical service, sewers, drains, plumbing, and natural gas)
- The laneway suite’s proposed square footage
- Infrastructure of the primary home is accessible (to provide connection to electrical, sewers, drains, plumbing, and natural gas)
- Type of exterior finishes (vinyl siding, stucco, maibec, and more)
- Interior decor (IKEA v.s. custom cabinets, vinyl versus hardwood, etc.)
Allow Milman Design Build to inspect your property to ascertain whether it meets the requirements and to estimate the cost based on the above factors.
How the Laneway Suite Initiative Will Change Toronto Living
The Toronto Laneway Suites Initiative is the perfect opportunity if you or a family member lives in Toronto and is searching for a fresh and creative way to earn additional funds, boost the value of your home, and build more affordable accommodation for future residents. Anyone who owns a home with an eligible laneway property will find laneway suites to be a very popular and perhaps profitable investment possibility. Let the Toronto renovation contractors at Milman Design Build, help you to evaluate the return on investment and competitively budget your project so you know the exact cost of constructing a laneway suite on your property. Milman Design Build offers all the services you need to ensure an elegant and financially reliable laneway suite. Contact the experts at Milman Design Build for a free estimate today!