Garden Suites in Toronto
In February 2022, Toronto City Council introduced the Garden Suites Official Plan Amendment and Zoning by-law Amendment, making it officially legal to build backyard garden suites as a form of housing.
Today, Ariel and Adrian discussed Toronto’s newest housing trend and answer questions regarding requirements, size and parking restrictions, and property division.
What Is a Garden Suite?
In-law suites within a home have been around for a long time. But garden suites—also known as coach houses and coined garden villas in this podcast—are detached secondary homes, usually located in the backyard of an existing residence.
In Toronto, you can have a 2-storey coach home with a basement in your backyard. In many ways, they’re the perfect solution for housing loved ones or providing rental income, giving people more privacy since they’re completely separated and detached from the main house.
Garden villas are sure to be popular in big cities like Toronto, where there’s a real need for more housing, and affordable real estate is a big problem. For example, Adrian has a friend in Vancouver renting a coach home in his backyard for $2,000 a month.
How is the Property Divided?
Since you’re now allowed to have two dwellings on one property, it raises questions about sharing a backyard and whether Ariel will feel comfortable grilling sausages in his underwear while his tenants watch? However, there are potentially the same privacy issues in a condo with an open balcony. You can put fences, foliage, or a privacy screen with a coach home, so it’s almost like two lots.
The Perks of Garden Suites
- Garden villas are a great idea for lots of reasons:
- Ideal for people who want to have their elderly parents living with them
- Create much more affordable detached homes
- Can subsidize costs for homeowners
- They offer more rental options, especially in high-demand areas like Toronto, where the only rental choice may be a condo.
- Garden villas offer the chance to live in a house in a previously unaffordable area.
- A great option for people with big yards that aren’t used. You might even get the renter to take care of the lawn as part of the deal.
Toronto Parking Requirements for Coach Houses
In Toronto, there is no requirement for additional parking, which is not a big deal since many use public transit. Although some places, like Hamilton, where coach houses are permitted, do have parking requirements, there, for example, you will have to have three legal parking spaces.
First-Time Buyers and Investors
Garden or coach villas are an excellent option for first-time buyers and investors. Now you can have a primary house, a legal basement apartment, and a garden villa. The combined extra income may even cover all of your carrying costs.
Suppose you’re a contractor who knows how to build. In that case, you could capitalize on this opportunity and specialize in coach villas by developing a business model and branding yourself as a coach villa builder.
Tiny Home Trends and Size
Toronto garden villa size is restricted to 645 square feet.
Setback restrictions in Toronto are:
- 5 metres back from the principal house
- 7.5 metres back from the principal house for 2-storey villas
- 1.5 metres in from the rear property line
For Adrian’s weird x-rated tenant story, watch the podcast at 13:17. The guys get sidetracked with why you shouldn’t take a black light on vacation, which somehow leads to a debate on the pros and cons of Dyson vacuums and battery stories.
Other Areas That Have Approved Garden Suites
Right now, there are only about three or four municipalities in Ontario that allow garden suites. But as housing becomes harder to find and afford, that seems likely to change as cities reach capacity for land usage.
Guelph approved coach homes about three or four years ago, and Kitchener also allows for these buildings on most properties depending on zoning.
If you’re interested in learning more, your best bet is to contact your municipality.
If you live in Toronto, here’s a link to a summary of rules and regulations for garden suites.