Thinking of Building A Laneway Suite? Here’s All You Need to Know
Toronto’s laneway suite bylaws (809-2018 and 810-2018) have only been around for a couple of years. If you’re thinking of building a laneway suite for your home, we put together a list of some common questions you may have as you begin your research.
What Exactly is a Laneway Suite?
A laneway suite is a self-contained living space in an ancillary building bordering a lane. It includes both a kitchen and a washroom for the exclusive use of those living in the suite.
Who is Allowed to Build One?
Not everyone in Toronto is able to build a laneway suite. This map shows where within the city the laneway suite bylaws are applicable. In order to qualify, you must have a residential zoned lot that borders a laneway (not a driveway) for at least 3.5m (11’6”).
Why Should I Build a Laneway Suite?
Laneway suites can provide additional dwellings to help alleviate rental housing shortages. They can also be a source of extra income, if rented out. Or, they can be used for multi-generational living with a separation of spaces.
How Big Can I Make It?
A laneway suite can be no larger than 8m (26’3”) wide by 10m (32’9”) long and no more than 2 storeys tall. It must be at least 5m (16’5”) from the main dwelling. The max height is determined by the rear angular plane which runs from the main dwelling at 4m (13’1”) high for 7.5m (24’7”) and then continues up at a 45-degree angle (see diagram below).
How Close Can It Be to the Property Line?
For lot lines that do not border a lane or street, there is no minimum setback provided there are no openings (vehicle access/doors/windows) in that wall of the laneway suite. Otherwise, the rear yard setback is 1.5m. The side yard setback is the same minimum as any residential building if it borders a street, and otherwise is 1.5m.
Are There Certain Things It Needs to Have?
As mentioned above, a laneway suite is required to have its own kitchen and washroom. It is also required to have two bicycle parking spaces in it. No other parking is required, though you may include it in the laneway suite, if you wish.
What about the Outdoor Space Around it?
A minimum percentage of the area between the main dwelling and the laneway suite must be soft landscaping. This percentage is determined by the lot frontage (60% if 6m [19’8”] or less; 85% if more than 6m). In addition to this, at least three quarters of the area between the laneway suite and the lot line bordering the lane must be soft landscaping (excluding driveways).
How About Getting Services to the Laneway Suite?
A laneway suite will need to be connected to various utility services, such as water, gas, electricity, and sewage. Rather than creating new connections which would mean running them from the street (not lane) and include a big price tag, this is done by tapping into and extending the existing connections at the main dwelling.
Aren’t Development Charges Expensive?
Development charges are normally collected when a new building is built to offset the cost of the services and infrastructure it will require. Currently, in the City of Toronto, these charges are around $72,000. That’s a lot, and they’re scheduled to go up even more in November. The good news is that Toronto has two programs to help homeowners interested in building a laneway suite do so. You must apply to both before construction begins, in order to be eligible.
Development Charges Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units
Through this program, development charges are not collected except in the case of a lot severance within 20 years of the building permit being issued. To apply for this program, you must first apply for a building permit, then contact the Housing Secretariat to begin the process of entering into a DC Deferral for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units Agreement with the City of Toronto.
Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program
This program provides funding by way of a forgivable loan of up to $50,000. This loan is forgiven 15 years after the date of the first tenant occupancy. For those 15 years the rent being charged cannot exceed the City of Toronto Average Market Rent (based on corresponding bedroom type). In order to apply to this program, you must be participating in the DC Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units and have applied for a building permit.
For more information on both of these programs, you can visit https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/community-partners/affordable-housing-partners/laneway-suites-program/