Accessory Apartment FAQs

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General

What is an Accessory Apartment?

An Accessory Apartment is a common name for a basement apartment, a secondary suite, or another form of secondary residential unit in a house that contains no more than one other unit.

An Accessory Apartment:

  • consists of a self -contained set of rooms that can be used as an independent unit;
  • contains kitchen, sleeping, and bathroom facilities designated for the exclusive use of the unit;
  • has a means of access that may be separate or shared with the other unit; and
  • can be installed on any floor of a house.

A dwelling containing an Accessory Apartment is not considered a 'Duplex Dwelling'.

Where are Accessory Apartments permitted in Whitby?

The Town of Whitby Zoning Bylaws 1784 and 2585 permit Accessory Apartments in single detached and semi-detached dwellings subject to conformity with zone provisions, including minimum lot frontage and front yard landscaping and parking requirements.

Do Development Charges apply to Accessory Apartments?

No. Development Charges are not applicable to improvements to existing residential dwellings that do not increase the floor area of the dwelling.

Building Services and Fire Services Information

Do I need a Building Permit to construct an Accessory Apartment? 

Yes.

How do I get a permit?

Submit a complete building permit application including the permit fee, along with detailed scale drawings, including floor plans, construction notes, and details.   For more information about building permits, please contact Building Services at 905.430.4305.

Who can produce the required drawings?

A homeowner or qualified designer can produce the required drawings.  Drawings must include all Building Code requirements.

How long does it take to get a Building Permit?

You will receive a response within 10 business days.

What are the current fees to register an Accessory Apartment in Whitby?

Registration of an Accessory Apartment costs $250.00. This is a one-time fee; there may also be fees for inspections and building permit fees and required upgrades.

Do Accessory Apartments have to meet Building Code, Fire Code , and Zoning By-laws?

In general, Accessory Apartments must comply with the Ontario Building Code, the Ontario Fire Code, and the Town's Zoning and Property Standards By-laws.

In addition, the electrical service and wiring in Accessory Apartments and existing dwelling units must be inspected and approved by the Electrical Safety Authority. The type of Electrical Safety Authority inspection that is required is called ElecCheck. Please click here to view the ElecCheck application form

What's involved in the Fire Department and By-law inspection?

A Fire Prevention Officer will inspect your home to make sure both dwelling units comply with Section 9.8 of the Ontario Fire Code.  A mutually convenient time will be arranged.  An inspection report will be issued listing the work to be done, and a re-inspection will be conducted once everything has been completed. This does not include upgrades that may be required by the Ontario Building Code through the building permit process.

What types of things does the Building Permit need to address?

When your home was originally constructed, it was designed as a single dwelling unit, with no fire rated separations, or independent exits.  Now that the use of your home will change, it is necessary to change how it is constructed. When a Building Permit is applied for drawings must be submitted to outline how the accessory apartment conforms to the Ontario Building Code requirements. These requirements include, exits, smoke alarms, fire separations, head room, natural lighting, and natural ventilation.

Is there a cost for the initial inspection?

Yes. Upon completion of all the work, you will receive an invoice for the Fire Prevention Officer's time.

What if I decide not to register my Accessory Apartment, or don't do the work in the Inspection Report?

The Fire Department and By-law Services may lay charges and prosecute owners of homes containing Illegal Accessory Apartments.

Property Standards and By-law Enforcement

What requirements are in the Property Standards By-law to ensure the owner of an Accessory Apartment maintains their property?

The Property Standards By-law requires that all owners of property in Whitby maintain the exterior property areas around the building in a safe, clean condition, including accessory structures, fences, and waste disposal, and that the exterior of the main building on the lot is maintained to ensure it is structurally sound and in a good state of repair.  The by-law also requires property owners to maintain minimum occupancy standards to ensure a safe living environment for tenants.  Enforcement of the by-law may result in the Town conducting the required work at the owner's expense when an order to bring a property into compliance is outstanding.

How do I initiate enforcement of a By-law that is not being complied with by an owner of an Accessory Apartment?

All requests for by-law enforcement and investigation are initiated in writing, including those relating to an Accessory Apartment.  To initiate enforcement, send an email to bylaw@whitby.ca, or a letter in writing, either delivered in person or via mail, or complete the online complaint form below.

All complaints, including emails, must contain the complainant's name, address and phone number. Please note that all personal information about complaints is kept confidential.

How do I request parking enforcement on a street where Accessory Apartments have resulted in more on-street parking?

All requests for parking enforcement are received by the Operations Centre at 905.668.3437. Parking Services staff will respond to this request. 

Will there be regular follow-up inspections of all Accessory Apartments once they are registered?

No. Enforcement staff will rely on requests for investigation at specific addresses from complaints received. Complaints may be received by a resident in the area or from a tenant of one of the units. Every request will be investigated to ensure that the property is in compliance with the relevant by-laws.

Is there currently a requirement to register an Accessory Apartment in Whitby?

Yes. All Accessory Apartments must be inspected and registered with the Town at a one-time cost of $250.00 and must comply with the Ontario Building Code, Fire Code, Zoning and Property Standards By-law.

What are the risks to a landlord/homeowner of an illegal or unsafe Accessory Apartment?

  • Increased Liability: The onus is on a homeowner to meet established standards for an Accessory Apartment. If anything should happen, such as a fire, the homeowner may be found liable due to the failure to meet legal 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 make your insurance coverage null and void.
  • Limited recovery of damage: An insurance policy is not typically responsible for rebuilding costs related to meeting current established standards. Your insurance company may only be required to cover the costs of fixing your home back to the state that existed at the time your policy commenced prior to any damage.
  • Prosecution: If you do not meet the Building and Fire Code and Town zoning and property standards, you are breaking the law. You run the risk of being charged and may face fines with a maximum penalty of $50,000 and/or a year of imprisonment on each count.
  • Financing: Income from an illegal Accessory Apartment may not be considered when applying for a mortgage loan.
  • Tenants: As a landlord, you are obliged to maintain your Accessory 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 may not cover property owned by a tenant.