Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Legal secondary units

With the exception of Rockcliffe Park, the City of Ottawa now allows secondary suites. So a home owner can build one (with a building permit) or get the city’s stamp of approval on an existing one, provided the home owner brings it up to building and fire code standards.

This is often a basement apartment, but the more correct description is “secondary suite” or “secondary dwelling unit”. If not built in the basement, a secondary suite can only take up 40% of the overall upper floors. A suite can be built in a garage, and each half of a semi-detached can have its own secondary suite.

Also, each (legal) duplex is allowed one secondary unit – effectively making it into a triplex. If, for example, a secondary unit occupies 40% of the upper floors and generates rental income, then 40% of expenses as such roof or furnace replacement and 40% of the city taxes can be deducted from that rental income. (Verify this, but since the secondary unit is in one’s principal residence, there may be NO capital gain upon sale).

note:
• All of this does not apply to a condo or row house.
• Conversions require building permits but no rezoning application is required.

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