While a secondary unit for family members is allowed, there are currently restrictions on renting out a basement apartment. In order to be deemed “legal” a basement apartment must first meet the standards set out by in the fire code. These include but are not limited to a secondary means of egress (two exits), fire doors and fire retardant drywall between units. Once the unit gets the fire department approval, the owner can then apply to the City for approval.
In the case of our area, this would probably require a zoning approval by means of an application for a minor variance to allow a change to the zoning to allow a rental unit. To approve the variance, all of your neighbours would be notified of your request and would have the option to oppose your application.
With a need for more affordable housing options, the Province is requiring all municipalities to now allow secondary units and could signal significant change to current by-laws and zoning.
The concerns for secondary units generally lie with the potential effect on the value of the neighbourhood property values; planning for sufficient services, such as schools, and emergency services; and possibly most importantly ensuring that the units are safe and will not end up as death traps in the event of fire.
For this reason, the City of Mississauga intends to reach out to residents for input in formulating a strategy for the implementation of the Provincial mandate on secondary units.
To this end, a series of public consultations will be held in February and March in various areas of the City culminating with a presentation on Rogers TV on March 6th. During this TV presentation, viewers will be able to go on line to make comments.
*Please note this article was originally published in the Spring 2012 edition of The Rockwood Times.