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Barrie Home Inspector
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Legal Apartments in Barrie, ON
Effective January 1, 2004 the City of Barrie requires every two-unit
house within the city to be registered. As part of the registration
process, the City will confirm that the two-unit house is legal under
the City’s Zoning By-law, and that the house complies with several
health and safety regulations.
For detailed information, please call the Zoning Branch of the
Building Services Department at (705) 739-4212.
What is a Two-Unit House?
A two-unit house is a building that contains two residential
dwelling units. Commonly, a two-unit house starts as a single dwelling
unit (detached, semi-detached or townhouse) with a second dwelling unit
created within the house later on. The second unit is sometimes
referred to as a second suite, an in-law suite or a basement apartment.
Why Do Two-Unit Houses Need to be Registered?
For a variety of reasons, some property owners have created a
second dwelling unit within an existing dwelling unit. In many cases,
the two-unit house is within a single family residential zone, where
such a use is prohibited. Because of the illegal use, work to create
the second suite was done without permits or inspections. In some
situations, bad ventilation, electrical wiring or plumbing may be
unsafe for the occupants.
The City of Barrie wants to ensure all legal two-unit houses are
safe. To do so, we have adopted a by-law to require every two-unit
house to be registered. Through the registration process the house will
be inspected to confirm compliance with the Zoning By-law, the Building
Code, the Fire Code and the Property Standards By-law.
Once cleared by the Zoning Branch, inspections need to be arranged
with the Fire Department and the Building Department. They need to
inspect the entire house, meaning both dwelling units and any common
areas (i.e. laundry room and furnace room). If any deficiencies are
found, you will need to correct them before the inspectors can pass the
A letter confirming registration of your two-unit house will be
sent to you by the registrar when all approvals have been granted. The
registration letter will indicate that on the date of registration,
your two-unit house satisfied the zoning, safety and maintenance
regulations of the day.
What Will This Cost?
Safety within two-unit houses requires special construction. For
instance drywall is an important component of a fire separation between
the two units. If the existing materials do not create the required
separation, new materials may be required. Overall, the costs will
depend on how the units have already been constructed.
Costs will include;
1. The costs to achieve the base construction requirements, if not already done, plus
2. The costs to apply for registration, plus
3. Any costs to upgrade the building or to do repairs as neces-sary to meet the maintenance requirements.
1. The base construction requirements are the upgrades necessary to
convert a single dwelling unit to a two-unit house. The requirements
depend on the date of conver-sion.
(a) Two-unit houses created on or before July 14, 1994 must comply
with Section 9.8 of the Fire Code. The cost of an inspection by the
Fire Department is $200. If construction upgrades are necessary
additional fees must be paid for a building permit.
(b) Two-unit houses created after July 14, 1994 must com-ply with
the Ontario Building Code. A permit will be re-quired and the fee is
based on the area of the second suite. A permit for a 500 sq. ft. suite
would cost about $200.
2. All two-unit houses must be registered, including those
previously ap-proved and inspected under building permits. The
registration fee will depend on the inspections that will be
(a) All applications are subject to a $75 administration fee.
(b) Unless there was a permit previously issued to create the two-unit house, a Zoning review fee of $25 will be charged.
(c) The Fire Code inspection will be $200 for units not previously
in-spected, and $100 for a maintenance inspection for those previ-ously
inspected and approved. Units created within the recent two year period
under a building permit does not need a Fire Code inspection.
(d) The Property Standards inspection will be $200 for units not
pre-viously inspected, and $100 for a maintenance inspection for those
units previously inspected and approved. Units created within the
recent two year period under a building permit do not need a Property
Standards inspection. The minimum registration fee is $75 for two-unit
houses created under a building permit within the most recent two year
period. The maximum registration fee is $500, except that a maximum fee
of $250 is available for all registration applications received prior
to December 31, 2005.
3. Building upgrades, repairs and renovations will vary depending
on the extent of the required work. Any material alterations to the
building will require a building permit at an additional cost.
What If I Can’t Afford To Comply With The Technical Standards?
In most cases, the rental of a second suite is a ‘business’. As
with any business, you must balance your costs with your revenues. If
the costs exceed your revenues, you would make a business decision to
either cease the business or obtain a loan where you expect, in the
longer term, the revenues to cover the costs.
If you decide to cease the business, you will need to evict the
tenants and convert the house back to a single dwelling unit. If the
‘tenants’ are family members or close friends, the conversion to a
single dwelling unit means you must live as a single housekeeping unit.
By removing the second kitchen and opening access between the two
areas, you can achieve the single unit status.
How Often Do I Have To Register?
Registration of a two-unit house is a one-time event. Under the current legislation, you do not have to re-register.
Can the City Revoke My Registration?
Yes. The registration does not need to be renewed, but you must
always continue to maintain your building in compliance with Part 2 of
the Fire Code and with the Property Maintenance By-law.
If your building is inspected, usually at the invitation of a
disgruntled tenant, and contraventions of the maintenance regulations
are found, you will be served an order to remedy the contraventions
within a time limit. If you do not make the repairs within the time
specified, you may face penalties under either the Fire Code or the
Property Standards By-law. In addition, the registrar may revoke your
registration. Any continued use of the house as a two-unit house
without being registered would be a separate violation, subject to its
Registration can also be revoked if the house ceases to be used as a two-unit house.
Applications to re-register a two-unit house would be subject to the rules and fees in effect at that time.
How Do I Know If My Two-Unit House Is Legal?
A two-unit house is legal under the City’s Zoning By-law where;
a) A two-unit house is a permitted use, such as in zones RM1, RM1-SS, RM2, RM2-TH, RA1, RA2, C1 and C2.
b) The two-unit house is within a house constructed prior to 1945
and complies with the ‘converted house’ requirements of the Zoning
c) The two-unit house was legally established under a former Zoning By-law, and has continued in use ever since; or
d) The two-unit house existed on May 22, 1996 and complied with the
requirements of the Resident’s Rights Act, 1994, and has continued in
use ever since.
What If My Two-Unit House Is illegal?
An illegal two-unit house is in contravention of the City’s Zoning
By-law. Even if the house was in compliance with the Building Code and
Fire Code, it cannot be registered. An unregistered two-unit house is a
contravention of the registration by-law.
To avoid a conviction in Provincial Offences Court, the illegal two-unit house must be converted back to a single dwelling unit.
What If I Don’t Know When the Second Suite Was Created?
Unless there is evidence produced that clearly confirms the second
suite was created before May 22, 1996 the City must conclude that the
unit was created after May 22, 1996.
Building permits or inspections by the Fire Department are good
sources of evidence. Without permits, the City will consider other
evidence such as lease agreements or affidavits from former owners,
tenants and neighbours, as outlined in our registration application
What Technical Standards Must My Legal Two-Unit House Comply With?
There are three categories of technical standards that will need to be verified to register your two-unit house:
1. Zoning By-Law Requirements,
2. Base Construction Requirements, and
3. On-going Maintenance Requirements.
Under the Zoning By-law, the two-unit house must be connected to
municipal water and sewer services, and must meet certain lot frontage,
lot area, floor area, building setbacks and off-street parking
requirements, depending on which zone you are located.
The base construction requirements will be found in the Ontario
Building Code and the Ontario Fire Code. For units that existed on July
14, 1994, Section 9.8 of the Fire Code requires compliance for fire
separations, exits, smoke alarms and electrical safety. For units
created after July 14, 1994, the Ontario Building Code Act requires
that a permit be obtained, and that fire separations, exits, smoke
alarms and heating/ventilation systems comply with Parts 9, 10 and 11,
depending on whether construction renovations are required.
The on-going maintenance requirements are found in Part 2 of the
Ontario Fire Code and in the Property Standards By-law 84-200. All of
the base requirements noted above plus the house and property in
general must be maintained in good repair at all times.
What Happens When I Apply For Registration?
Your application for registration of your two-unit house will consist of;
• A completed application form
• Proof of the date when the second suite was established
• Sketch of the property indicating building setbacks and parking
• Floor plan sketches of the two-unit house for all floors
• Payment of the registration application fee
Staff of the Zoning Branch will receive your application on the 8th
floor of City Hall at 70 Collier Street, Barrie during regular office
Your application will be reviewed to confirm compliance with the
Zoning By-law. You may be asked to provide additional information.
Once you have satisfied the zoning requirements, you will be
required to arrange the appropriate inspections and/or to obtain
necessary permits from the City.
Once all necessary works are completed, the City will be in a position to issue a Certificate of Registration.
Where Can I Get More Information?
To discuss the specifics of your own two-unit house, please contact
the Zoning Branch of the Building Services Department by dropping into
City Hall, 8th floor, or by calling 739-4212. You can also e-mail us at
Barrie Home Inspector
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