Legalizing Basement Rental Apartments

Basement rental apartments are popular in Toronto and make homes affordable for many in the city since they have the potential of generating $1000-$1500 per month in rental income. Legalizing a basement apartment requires meeting electrical, fire and building codes. It seems daunting initially but working with a knowledgeable architect can alleviate lots of headaches.  As a real estate investor, I have viewed many properties and found the most challenging part of legalizing a basement apartment to be the ceiling height requirement. There are 2 building code requirements; one for existing basement units and one for new basement units.If the basement rental apartment is existing, the code requires at least 50% of the floor area to be 6'5" high.  If the basement rental apartment is new, the code requires at least 50% of the floor area to be 6'8" high.  The majority of homes' basements built in the city of Toronto were used as utility /storage areas and not as living space.  Nowadays, basements are considered part of the living space for in-home offices, guest bedrooms, children's play area and entertainment space. Lowering the flooring to achieve legal height can be accomplished through underpinning or benching. Both methods can be costly depending on the house foundation conditions, soil conditions and existing interior walls.  In cases where the basement ceiling height is 4"-6" below the required height, there is a third more cost effective option: lowering concrete slab (see image below).

Underpinning Cross Section

A bonus of this option is installing new PVC drains since the old ones are made out of clay and over the years have deteriorated in condition. This method requires drilling holes into the existing concrete slab to locate it relative to the wall footing.  In my experience, I had to underpin one property and managed to lower the concrete slab on another to achieve required legal basement height.  The cost of underpinning can range between $50-70,000 where as concrete slab lowering $15-20,000.

References For Adding A Secondary Unit in Toronto

If you are looking for an experienced mortgage broker to help you navigate through adding a basement rental apartment and analyze the investment property, please contact me.

**Disclaimer: The above information is for reference only and it is best to consult with a professional architect and a licensed basement lowering company as part of your due diligence**