The residential streetscape is in for a change with cities across Canada approving bylaws to allow for more housing per property. Will it completely fix the tight rental market? No. But, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Last month, Kitchener councillors approved a new bylaw allowing for up to three suites on a property, including things like basement apartments, granny flats, apartments over the garage, or even completely separate tiny houses.
There are new provincial changes to the Planning Act that make it so that municipalities have to allow up to three suites per property, but allowing an entire separate building like a tiny house is Kitchener going beyond requirements.
What is a granny flat you ask? It’s a term some people use when referring to a living space for aging parents or other elderly relatives. It’s not necessarily different than a basement apartment or any other secondary rental unit; the term just highlights one of the major uses for these types of suites.
I was actually just chatting with a friend who is in his 60s and he was driving around checking out open houses in the 905 region last weekend. His kids have moved out and he and his wife have a large four-bedroom home that they no longer need anymore. With retirement around the corner, they want to stay in the area, but want a much smaller, easier to maintain home.
They were mostly looking at bungalows. They were surprised to find that many of the bungalows they looked at still had slippery wood stairs leading into the basement. And in the basement, they noticed that many of the bungalows had a full kitchen, a full bathroom, a separate entrance, and a bedroom.
Being in their 60s and their parents either passed away or living outside of Ontario, they have no need for a bungalow with a rental suite in the basement. But then I told him, maybe your kids will someday move in or buy it from you when you’re older and need someone to take care of you. He laughed and brushed it off, but I feel like we’re going to see more and more of this type of living arrangement as home prices increase.
Altus Group’s recent housing figures found that the Greater Toronto Area’s new home market is recovering, and prices are still high. A new single-family home averages more than $1 million and a new condo unit is well over $800,000. In the resale world, the Canadian Real Estate Association is forecasting average prices to rise over the next two years.
As homes get more expensive, owners need ways to decrease mortgage payments and more people will need rental housing for longer while saving to buy. I’m curious to see if other municipalities in Ontario will allow for tiny houses on a property with an existing home.
I’m in favour of diversifying housing options in the GTA, across Ontario, and throughout Canada. I’m eager to see how many people add tiny houses and second and third suites to their properties in Kitchener.