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Laneway Housing in Toronto: What You Need to Know

A Laneway House is a detached secondary suite, constructed on an existing lot, with its main entrance facing a Public Laneway.
Written By: Baron Alloway

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Laneway Housing: Toronto’s next big buzzword.

While Toronto Real Estate is a hotly contested issue across the city, there’s no denying the existence of supply issues. With staggering immigration backlogs, slow construction, and continued roadblocks to development, the solution is clear: we need to build, and we need to build now.

Developers are constantly trying to Increase affordable housing supply with condominiums. The issue, however, is that developments move at a relatively glacial pace. Consolidation efforts are often tedious and under constant protest. Residents dispute development applications ad nauseam, and construction of towers can take years at a time.

City residents must get creative with housing supply. In addition to Legal Basement Apartments, city residents now have an additional way to provide affordable accommodation and earn passive income: Laneway Housing.

What is Laneway Housing?

A Laneway House is a detached secondary suite, constructed on an existing lot, with its main entrance facing a Public Laneway.

A Laneway House in Toronto. Source: Laneway Housing Advisors

Toronto Laneway Housing Basic Requirements

There are four typical qualifying elements for Laneway Housing eligibility in Toronto:

  1. The subject property must have a minimum of 3.5 meters abutting a public laneway at the rear or side of the property. Public laneways must be city-recognized public laneways.
  2. There must be access from the front of the property to the laneway suite via a path being minimum 0.9 metres wide by 2.1 metres high. This can be on your own property or via an agreement with your neighbor.
  3. There must be a maximum distance of 45 metres between the public street and the laneway house, or, 90 metres distance from the street to the laneway house via public laneways (see sample sketch below). For fire safety, a hydrant must be located within 45 metres of the starting point of measurement.
  4. There must be no Tree Protection trees within the proposed building envelope of the laneway suite.
A sample site plan sketch showing compliance with fire safety distances

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are additional Zoning Requirements for laneway housing in Toronto that must be adhered to in order for a building permit to be granted. Zoning By-Laws are constantly changing in Toronto. A review of the current by-law is recommended prior to commencement.

Laneway houses do not require a basement. If you’re looking to add a second suite to your home, you can use the garage area instead of lowering your basement. This can avoid costly basement underpinning.

Parking Requirements for Laneway Housing

Properties with secondary suites have no parking requirements for the secondary suite or the main dwelling unit(s). This rule applies to single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes.

Additional Resources

While the above is a general guideline, seek expert advice for Laneway Suites in Toronto. Below are some additional resources to assist those looking to continue laneway housing research.

  1. The Architect Builders Collaborative
  2. Lanescape

Laneway housing can be a confusing, complex & diverse legal topic. If you have additional questions with respect to Laneway Housing, or your rights as it pertains to building a laneway suite, contact Us for a free consultation.

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