Rental units ease financial burdens for purchasers

The old adage 'house rich and cash poor' is an economic reality for many buyers in large Canadian cities.

Many purchasers are looking for creative ways of making ends meet. One such option available to purchasers is to create a 'secondary suite' or 'basement apartment' in their home. For most buyers, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. The inconvenience of becoming a landlord is offset by the substantial dent the incoming rent will make on the monthly mortgage payment.

But before you start dry-walling the basement, you may want to check with your municipal government to determine if there are any zoning by-laws and planning standards that will impact your decision.

By-laws pertaining to 'secondary-suites' generally vary from municipality to municipality. In Ontario, for example, the Land Use Planning and Protection Act - Bill 20 allows municipalities to use their zoning by-laws to decide if and where new second units in houses are to be allowed. Existing apartments in houses that have been registered with the municipality continue to be permitted as long as they meet fire code requirements and planning standards.

Similar laws governing rental units are in place in other provinces.

Contact your local municipal offices to determine how by-laws and planning standards will affect your decision to create a secondary suite.

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