During the period between October 1, 1990 to June 26, 1995, basement apartments were legalized due to Bill 120, the Residents Rights Act as proclaimed by Bob Rae N.D.P. government. This permitted second units in houses, provided that Health and Fire safety standards were met, regardless of Brampton's Municipal Zoning.
On May 22, 1996, Bill 20 came into effect which prohibited new apartments in houses created after May 22, 1996. Existing apartments in houses that were used or occupied on or before November 16, 1995 were "grandfathered", provided they conform with the requirements of the original Bill 120.
What is a basement apartment / Secondary Suite?
A basement apartment is a self-contained apartment consisting of a room or rooms in a singe or semi-detached house and can be located in any part of the house, not necessarily in the basement.
A self-contained apartment shall have a separate means of entry (which may be through another unit) a kitchen (or cooking area) and bathroom facilities. A self-contained apartment may be as small as a single room that contains all of the features listed.
However, if you rent a room in a house or a flat with a shared entrance, kitchen and bathroom facilities, this bylaw does not apply to you.
Are basement apartments legal in Brampton?
There are approximately 3,000 homes with legal basement apartments in Brampton which had to exist prior to November 16, 1995 and they had to be registered with the City of Brampton prior to January 31, 2006 and/or have legal non-conforming status. These units were also to comply with the Building Code and Fire Code at the time of approval.
Any basement apartments built since November 16, 1995 are illegal in the City of Brampton. A single or semi-detached registered home can only have one basement apartment. Homes that have been subdivided into more than two units are strictly prohibited unless the property has been specifically zoned to permit multiple units. Any home built after 1995 can never have an existing legal basement apartment and cannot be converted.
Before buying a home with a basement apartment?
Have your Real Estate Agent or lawyer confirm with the city that the home being offered for sale has a legally registered basement apartment or is legal non-conforming and complies with the Building and Fire Code.
Homes with doubtful legal status are typically listed with the caution "Vendor does not warrant retrofit status" and consumers should seek further legal advice before proceeding with a purchase offer.
Risks of an illegal or unsafe basement apartment:
Increased Liability - The onus is on a homeowner to meet established standards for a second suite. If anything should happen, such as a fire, the homeowner would be held liable due to failure to meet requirements.
Loss of Insurance Coverage - Having a rental unit in your home is a material change to your home. Non-disclosure of this change of use may in fact make your coverage null and void.
Limited recover of damage - An insurance policy is not responsible for rebuilding costs related to meeting current established standards. Your insurance company is only required to cover the costs of fixing your home back to the state that existed at the time your policy was made prior to any damage.
Prosecution - If you do not meet City codes it means that you are breaking the law. You run the risk of being charged and can face fines with a maximum penalty of $50,000 and/or a year of imprisonment on each count.
Financing - Income from an unauthorized basement apartment is generally not considered when qualifying for a mortgage loan.
Tenants - You are a landlord. You are obliged to maintain your basement apartment in good operating order and you must follow all fire safety laws. Tenants may apply for rent reduction where the unit fails to meet the prescribed municipal health, safety, maintenance and property standards.
Tenant Insurance - Your homeowner?s policy will not cover property owned by a tenant.
Fore more information including reporting illegal/unsafe apartments or if you can have an existing apartment registered see: