Laneway Housing FAQs

Can I build a laneway suite on my lot?

As long as your lot fronts a laneway for at least 3.5m, and your home is located within the boundary outlined in the city’s zoning legislation, you can apply for an as-of-right building permit for a laneway suite.

How will my laneway suite be serviced (garbage collection, water, hydro, utilities, fire and emergency services, etc.)?

As far as utilities go, your laneway suite’s utilities must come from the principal dwelling on your lot. This is one of the main reasons why the City is prohibits the severance of properties with laneway suites.
Garbage collection will continue to be from the public street fronting your property, with no separate laneway service. So, when planning for your laneway suite, you will have to consider how the future occupants will get their garbage, recycling, and compost from the laneway suite to the street frontage of your property.
Laneways in Toronto cannot accommodate fire engines, so the entrance to your proposed laneway suite must be within 45m of a public street. This is not an issue for detached and semi-detached houses (which typically possess side yards at least 1m wide that can provide access to the laneway suite) but does make things a little more complicated for row houses with no side yard access. While there is no restriction against row houses in the City’s zoning amendment, part of the building code compliance phase of your laneway project will involve working with the city and emergency services to demonstrate that in the event of a fire or other emergency, your laneway suite can be adequately accessed.

What are the required setbacks for my laneway suite?

Where your laneway suite abuts a lane, it must be set back 1.5m. Where the suite abuts a lot line that is not adjacent to a lane or public street, the suite can be built to that lot line (0.0m setback), as long as there are no doors or windows on the corresponding face of the laneway suite. If the laneway suite abuts a street, then the required setback is the same setback as the main house on the lot.

What does the separation distance have to be between my house and laneway suite?

This depends on the height of the laneway suite you are going build. If your proposed laneway suite is no more than 4.0m in height, then the minimum separation distance between the suite and your house is 5.0m. If the height of your proposed laneway suite is greater than 4.0m, then the minimum separation distance between the suite and your house is 7.5m.

Are there any landscaping requirements if I build a laneway suite?

Yes, and these depend on the width of your lot. If your lot is 6.0m wide or less, a minimum of 60% of the area between your proposed laneway suite and the rear main wall of your house must be soft landscaping (grasses, shrubbery, trees, essentially anything planted and permeable). If your lot is greater than 6.0m wide, then a minimum of 85% of the area between your proposed laneway suite and the rear main wall of your house must be soft landscaping.
The area within the 1.5m setback between the laneway suite and the lane must be landscaping, of which 75% must be soft landscaping. This is excluding the area for a permitted driveway.

How many storeys can my laneway suite be?

A laneway suite can have a maximum of 2 storeys.

What is the maximum length and width my laneway suite can be?

Laneway suites can have a maximum length of 10.0m, and a maximum width of 8.0m.

What is the maximum height my laneway suite can be?

The height of your proposed laneway suite depends on the separation distance between the laneway suite that rear main wall of your house. If that separation distance is between 5.0m and 7.5m, the maximum height your laneway suite can be is 4.0m. If the separation distance is greater than 7.5m, then the maximum height your laneway suite can be is 6.0m.

Are there any angular plane requirements (and, what is an angular plane)?

An angular plane is a theoretical barrier, placed at an angle, that restricts the massing of a building to allow for light and air penetration at ground level. In other words, it ensures that as buildings get higher, the surrounding physical environment will not be negatively affected. It is most often applied to mid-rise apartment and high-rise tower construction – the stepping terraces you might observe on either of those two building types are the result of the application of angular planes.
In the case of laneway suites, a 45-degree angular plane is required, starting at a height of 4.0m. Consequently, the application of an angular plane is only required if your proposed laneway suite is between the height of 4.0m and 6.0m.

Is there a restriction on how much of my lot my laneway suite can cover?

Yes – your laneway suite must not take up more than 30% of your lot area.

Are there any parking requirements for my laneway suite, or for my property if I decide to build a laneway suite?

If you build a laneway suite on your property, then no parking is required either for your laneway suite, or for the main residence and any other secondary suites that may exist in your lot. However, the laneway suite must provide two bicycle parking spaces within the suite itself, or within any of the required yard setbacks.

If you’re thinking of building a laneway house or garden suite, let us know if you want to discuss the opportunities on your site.

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