Converting your basement into a rental property is a great way to make extra income to help offset your mortgage. However, it’s not as simple as cleaning it out and finding a tenant—there are legal requirements the space must meet in order to be rentable. Here’s how to turn your basement into a rental property in Toronto.
The first steps
First, you’ll need to make sure your property is eligible for adding a second unit. Generally only detached and semi-detached homes are permitted to have basement apartments in Toronto, and if your home is less than five years old, you will need to contact your local building department, as different rules may apply.
Before you begin your project, you need to obtain the proper permits and inspections. Check with municipal zoning regulations and by-laws before starting any work to make sure you can legally proceed.
The basic requirements
It’s important to make sure your basement can accommodate the following logistical requirements in order to turn it into a rental property:
- Designated rooms. A legal secondary unit must have its own bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, and these rooms have minimum sizes and ceiling height requirements.
- The size and number of windows needed in a basement unit depends on the overall size of the space.
- Separate services. Separate plumbing, septic, electrical, heating and ventilation are usually required.
- An entrance and exit. Your basement unit should have a separate entrance, both for privacy and for exiting safely in the event of a fire or other emergency.
- Fire safety. You’ll need a fire separation between the unit and the rest of your home. Make sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well.
To attract good tenants (and get the most value for your space), think about adding these comforts, in addition to the basic requirements:
- Sound proofing. Ensure privacy, for both you and your tenant, by using materials that will dampen sound between the basement and the rest of the house.
- Adequate lighting. Use appropriate lighting, such as pot lights and under counter lighting, to make the space feel more welcoming.
- Warm flooring. Choose carpet, materials like cork or vinyl that feel warm, or maybe even install heated flooring for a touch of luxury.
- Paint colours. Opt for warm neutral hues that brighten the space and allow for easy decorating.
If you think your basement could meet all the necessary requirements, it’s a good idea to work with a licensed engineer, architect or contractor to ensure compliance throughout the renovation. When your basement has been transformed, it’s time to find the right tenant for your new unit. Need help? Just contact our team.
Photo source: @whitebrassandmarble via Instagram