Second Residential Units

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Consultation has concluded

Note: At it's June 6 meeting, Planning Committee recommended that the proposed zoning by-law and Official Plan amendments for second residential units be approved. The recommendation will be brought forward to the June 18, 2019 Council meeting.


The City of Kingston is proposing to amend the zoning bylaws to allow for more second residential units throughout the city. Associated Official Plan Amendments are also being proposed. Second residential units are also referred to as secondary suites, basement apartments, granny flats, in-law apartments, or as coach houses when detached from the principal home.

They are self-contained residential units that are in

Note: At it's June 6 meeting, Planning Committee recommended that the proposed zoning by-law and Official Plan amendments for second residential units be approved. The recommendation will be brought forward to the June 18, 2019 Council meeting.


The City of Kingston is proposing to amend the zoning bylaws to allow for more second residential units throughout the city. Associated Official Plan Amendments are also being proposed. Second residential units are also referred to as secondary suites, basement apartments, granny flats, in-law apartments, or as coach houses when detached from the principal home.

They are self-contained residential units that are in addition to a principal residential unit and have separate access, private kitchen, bathroom facilities, and living space within the principal home or in an accessory building.

In 2011, the Planning Act was amended to require municipalities to establish Official Plan policies and Zoning Bylaw provisions allowing second residential units in single detached, semi-detached and row houses, as well as in ancillary structures. The City’s Official Plan permits second residential units within single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, linked and row houses, as well as in accessory structures. The Official Plan also states that the zoning bylaw shall identify locations where second residential units are permitted, being all areas that permit single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, and linked and row houses.

Currently, the City’s Zoning Bylaws only permit second residential units in certain areas of the city and requires them to be located within the principal home. Proposed changes include expanding the areas where second residential units are permitted and allowing second residential units to be detached from the principal home.

See more information on the existing regulations for second residential units.

The proposed amendments were presented at a public meeting on July 5, 2018 and a survey was also held between June 27 to July 13 to obtain additional input. Revisions have since been made to the proposed amendments and highlights of the changes are indicated below:

View a summary of proposed Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments.

February 2019

The proposed revised amendments are undergoing a technical review process and have also been posted to receive public feedback from January 21 to February 4, 2019, at which time further revisions will be made and presented with staff recommendations during a Public Meeting to the Planning Committee in early Spring 2019.

If approved, proposed changes will create updates to Zoning Bylaws (95-259, 76-26, 97-102, 32-74, 8499, 3072 and 8402 ) and amendments to the Official Plan.

May 2019

The following amendments are a result of the feedback received from the February 2019 engagement and will be presented at a Planning Committee Public Meeting on June 6, 2019.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.
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    I support the expansion of housing available especially to low-income and moderate income people, but of course it must be safe housing. What protections if any are built into the proposal to ensure the housing is safe but available/affordable?

    David Toupin asked over 1 year ago

    The establishment of a second residential unit must be in compliance with the Ontario Building Code and Fire Code. The building permit process includes inspections during construction to ensure the unit is in compliance. Zone regulations are also being proposed to ensure protection for health and safety. One such provision is the requirement to provide an unobstructed walkway to a second residential unit within a dwelling. This is also required for a detached second residential unit when a driveway cannot be provided. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure there is adequate access for emergency services to access the second residential unit.  A minimum distance is also required from the primary dwelling to a detached second residential unit (when a driveway cannot be provided) to accommodate the length of a fire hose to reach the detached second residential unit and maneuver within the unit.

    In addition, regulations are also being proposed in servicing constraint areas, which will assist in ensuring health and safety (for example, areas that are at increased risk of basement flooding are not permitted to establish a second residential unit in the basement).

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    This is a wonderful proposal that seems to be well thought out. Kingston is made up of a unique diaspora of all ranges of society and income levels, a growing student population, and efforts to bring more business (and with that, employees) and so we need to ensure that we have housing available. As a young professional myself, I know that we do not have enough available currently, especially close to the downtown core, and I think this will assist with this greatly.

    justin.klimkait asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    Although I can agree with the over-all objective of increasing housing density for Kingston, particularly as new construction building is designed, I remain concerned about the disintegration of stable family neighbourhoods such as Calvin Park and Polson Park, where there is continuing pressure to accommodate post-secondary students from Queen's and St. Lawrence. Without a doubt, these students need a place to live, but transforming of neighbourhoods designed for single family housing perhaps is not the best answer. I have lived in this "family neighbourhood" for over 40 years. The streets are curvy and there are no sidewalks. The street is where people and kids walk. The homes are mostly modest bungalows with single driveways; most with no garage. It is convenient to transit, schools and even the downtown. It is one of the few places where young families CAN afford a house, albeit modest and not new. It was a wonderful place for our children to grow up. In the past few years, most times when a house comes up for sale (usually the owner died or moved into a care facility), it is scooped up by someone who wishes to convert it into a student rental. More people are crammed into each house, the number of vehicles doubles or triples, the property maintenance erodes. On street parking makes walking and bike riding for children hazardous, and at times has even blocked potential access for emergency vehicles. I won't even mention the potential for noise and disorderly behaviour, given the city's limited resources for enforcement. Does this exercise contribute to an increase in affordable housing for permanent Kingston residents? I think not. Does this approach contribute to fair taxation of residents for city services? I think not. If we are to proceed with allowing secondary residences on a city-wide basis, I would hope that the approval process could take into consideration the design of the house and of the neighbourhood, to ensure that the probability of maintaining the neighbourhood characteristics remains. Is it possible that the approvals process can include specific neighbourhood characteristics in the consideration?

    Jan Ley asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I continue to believe that this will be a wonderful plan to provide affordable housing to the working class of Kingston. I work in hotel management, and see that most entry level staff (which make up for 60% of all hotel staff) some of which are in their 50s,even 60s, making 14$/hr, no pension, and are living in tiny apartments that cost 1200-1500/month. They take the bus to work, as they cannot afford a vehicle. So I do not foresee parking/traffic being an issue, as I’ve seen in previous comments. I also believe that this plan could potentially save the city alot of money down the road in subsidy programs due to the affordability rate. Overall I think this proposal will significantly improve the quality of living for most Kingstonians.

    Jesse.C asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    Traffic is a concern, more people = more cars, preserving property values, setting rents appropriate with value of the home and area, fire safety and inspection. I like the idea that a secondary suite could be built on a larger property that is not attached to the home. There is concern that homes will be purchased and made rentals for 1st and 2nd suites in neighbourhoods where the majority of homes are occupied by their owners. Owners living in their home who wish to have a secondary suite could be allowable while turning an entire home into multiple units should have further restrictions.

    CITIZENL asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I fully support the proposal to allow more secondary suites throughout the City. Kingston needs more affordable housing and this solution will help resolve the issue.

    konysko asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    We own a detached home on 22 acres of land in Joyceville. How will a detached secondary residence be taxed? Are there any grants, loans or other measures in place at the municipal, provincial or federal level of government to offset construction costs?

    RitaG asked over 1 year ago

    The City of Kingston provides municipal planning fee rebates and capital funding assistance to create a new, or legalize an existing second residential unit. For more information please visit the program web page.

    https://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/community-services/housing/programs/secondary-suites

    All structures on a property that are used or occupied for residential purposes are assessed and taxed at the residential rate.

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    I think it would be worth considering the idea of having both units accessible from the front of the property, so that they each individually would have their own entrance. Possibly one going to the upstairs unit and one going to the basement (secondary suite). Obviously the aesthetic and structural design would have to be considered so that the integrity and value of the main property would not be compromised. I believe this would be more financially viable option for homeowners who are looking to do a secondary suite, thereby increasing the number of rentals units available to the public.

    Stephanie Weima asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    All the issues with the city's developments seem to be around transportation...I.e. cars. I think the city is going to hit a wall if they dont start thinking about the big picture of how to reduce cars on the road or better manage the congestion. If people can't park their cars or insufficient other options that's a main factor in where they are going to want to live. Kingston is expanding quick. Quicker than ever. Private rental rates are actually quite reasonable. Property taxes go up every year 2.5 percent. Hydro, insurance and mortgage rates go up. $230,000 mortgage is roughly $1100 month. Plus $4200/year property taxes Plus $300 month hydro Plus $120 month water Plus $100 month insurance (with tenant coverage) Plus maintenance $100/m ? Just a numbers game. Wealthy people without mortgages can afford to house some one in their basement, but they usually dont want the hassle. So really it's up to the big guys with deep pockets and shady rules.

    Cleahbunting asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I have lived in a single family neighbourhood for 32 years having outgrown our semi-detached dwelling. I am concerned that the integrity of our neighbourhood not be compromised to account for insufficient medium or high density housing. I bought here for a purpose that was to live on a quiet street with limited traffic. We are already seeing secondary units cropping up creating a noticeable increase in on-street parking and a general increase in traffic year round. One house in particular has gone from 3 occupants to 7 or 8 and an 3 additional vehicles. Perhaps the city should be encouraging more medium to high density development with the use of tax incentives etc. I see no problem with taking in an elderly family member. I see that as being different than boxing off your house in additional rooms potentially creating a ghetto effect. Surely there is also the potential for underground utilities to become compromised being that they were originally designed on the basis of allowable population densities established many years ago.

    Paul Price asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I support the move to make the availability of second residential units more widespread. They provide solutions for extended families wanting to live together, and/or affordable rental options and rental income for homeowners.

    Claire asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    Given the City's preferences for the use of public transit and/or active transportation and, given the increasing availability of car sharing and ride sharing and, understanding that the cost of creating a parking space per residential unit is counterproductive to the objective of creating affordable housing, might I suggest that requiring a parking space for every residential unit is somewhat outdated and also undesirable. Allowing units with no parking will attract residents that have already embraced the choices listed above.

    Dieter Rohde asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    Any new apartments created under these revisions, need to be geared to income or capped at the following: Not Inclusive, Studio/Bachelor 650, 1 bedroom 800, 2 bedroom 1100, 3 bedroom 1400. Inclusive, Studio/Bachelor 750, 1 bedroom 900, 2 bedroom 1250, 3 bedroom 1700. These are fair rates for Renting in Kingston, Mid range prices, have seen studios (Inclusive) for 900 and large 1 bedroom (inclusive) in West End go for 1300. This is gauging and leaves next to nothing for Individuals or even Dual Income Couples to exist on monthly. Speaking as a Person on ODSP and CPP/D with a Wife earning more than allowed by ODSP, so cut off with only CPP/D as income, Wife Drives for her work (Social Worker), Cat and a Dog food/litter/vets, Internet, and Insurance/Repairs and Gas... it leaves little for eating properly.

    Travis C asked over 1 year ago

    The City is unable to set rent prices for a second residential unit created on private property. The intent of the amendments is to create more affordable housing by providing an opportunity for homeowners to obtain an additional income to assist with their mortgage as well as to increase the supply in the rental market, which can contribute to overall reductions in rent costs.

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    For those within constraint area 2- servicing capacity, who is considered to be a "qualified professional" in providing a letter if opinion regarding water and wastewater capacity?

    Hiphopanonymous asked over 1 year ago

    A licensed professional engineer would be considered a qualified professional.

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    Why is there a 5 metre height restriction on detached second residential units? What about rooms about a garage?

    cxg asked over 1 year ago

    In the existing Zoning By-laws, the maximum height of an accessory structure is 4.6 metres or 5 metres depending on the applicable Zoning By-law. The detached second residential unit is proposed to have a 5 metre height restriction as it is intended to be accessory to the principal dwelling and will assist in ensuring compatibility principles are being met (e.g. overlook onto neighbouring properties).

    We have noted this comment and it will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.


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    With regards to accessing the second residential unit, why is it necessary to specify that there be access via a walkway from the front of the house? For example, our driveway leads to parking at the back of the house (where our tenant would park) and then they access their entrance at the rear of the house. This access would provide more than the 1.2 meters required for emergency services. Should this not be sufficient?

    Hiphopanonymous asked over 1 year ago

    A required walkway is proposed due to vehicles often being parked in driveways. The intent is to ensure adequate access for emergency services and residents to access the second residential unit.

    We have noted this comment and it will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    What plans are in place to ensure that neighbourhood character is maintained? Are there bylaw enforcement strategies or other resources to deal with unkempt yards, litter, parking and substandard property maintenance?

    rik saaltink asked over 1 year ago

    The second residential unit permissions are accompanied with proposed zoning regulations to ensure neighbourhood compatibility principles are maintained. The City does have a proactive enforcement strategy with respect to the City’s yards and solid waste by-laws. By-law enforcement officers actively patrol areas throughout the City and complaints are also acted upon when received. 

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    The city already has enough trouble managing the streets, bylaw enforcement and fire code violations with some of these secondary units in areas with many secondary suites (some illegal). Will the city commit to actively enforcing bylaws in neighbourhoods that are being increased two fold due to secondary suites when the original design plans did not account for the additional cars, parking, people etc?

    NorahRoberts222 asked over 1 year ago

    The City responds to by-law enforcement complaints and will continue to address complaints as they are received. The proposed permissions for second residential units also include a number of proposed zone regulations and official plan amendments to ensure that appropriate land use planning matters are being met. For example, the amendments are proposing that one parking space be required for a second residential unit and any applications requesting relief from this requirement are to be reviewed against specific outlined criteria. Following the amendment process, City staff will be working towards establishing communications material to help residents understand what is required to establish a second residential unit (including compliance with the requirements of the Ontario Building Code and the Fire Code).

    If the proposed amendments are approved, City staff will be monitoring the amount of units being established and how the proposed amendments are working to ensure the intent of the regulations is being met. This monitoring will include a review of the frequency of enforcement-related complaints and the capacity of the City to adequately respond to such complaints.

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    Will the potential new rules limiting rental units and air B&B's effect this?

    nclaan asked over 1 year ago

    The duration of the use will not be addressed within the second residential unit work and will be the focus of a municipal licensing by-law, passed under the Municipal Act.

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    Will there be any regulation on these regarding short-term rentals, such as AirBnB?

    electronsean asked over 1 year ago

    From a zoning perspective, second residential units are treated as a residential use. However, City Council has approved the establishment of a licensing program for short-term rentals. The short term duration will be captured in the licensing program. City staff will be reporting back to Council with a short-term rental licensing by-law in 2019.

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    Where in the city are secondary suites allowed now?

    mburns asked over 1 year ago

    Second residential units are currently only permitted in select areas of the former Pittsburgh Township Zoning By-law and former Kingston Township Zoning By-law.  A Holding “H” Symbol is utilized in the rural areas to require confirmation that the private water and sewage supply is sufficient to support the second residential unit. The following map displays where second residential units are currently permitted in the City.

    Existing Pilot Project Area


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    How do I do the online survey?

    Jean Gower asked over 1 year ago

    The online survey was conducted from June 28 to July 13, 2018. A summary of the survey results can be found at the following link:

    https://www.cityofkingston.ca/documents/10180/490255/Second+Residential+Units+-+Survey+Results+Summary/42f8ff12-8faa-4239-b900-3bc885725341

    City staff are now accepting comments on the revisions that have been made to the proposed zoning and Official Plan amendments. These revisions have been made in response to the public meeting comments, technical review comments and feedback received through the online survey. We look forward to receiving any comments you may have on the proposed amendments.

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    Last question, will water and sewer capacities be taken into consideration prior to “approving” additonal units or suites on properties in Kingston? Unlike previous blanket approvals I think the Public Utilities should be consulted prior to approving additional units in neighbourhoods that are close to capacity to avoid sewer backups and low water pressures.

    NorahRoberts222 asked over 1 year ago

    The proposed zoning constraint overlay map was prepared in consultation with Utilities Kingston and identifies areas where there are known or potential servicing constraints. Associated zoning amendments indicate that areas prone to sewer surcharging would not be permitted to establish a second residential unit in the basement. It is also being recommended that second residential units not be permitted in those areas that are constrained due to a lack of sewer capacity. In addition, a holding symbol is proposed to be utilized in the Cana Subdivision in order to require confirmation that the proposed unit will not result in water and/or wastewater capacity issues.

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    Why is this necessary? Kingston’s rate of growth is much slower than anticipated and many apartments are being built. If downtown intensification is a priority why are we encouraging people to move out of the downtown core?

    NorahRoberts222 asked over 1 year ago

    The City’s Zoning By-laws currently only permit second residential units in select areas in the Former Pittsburgh Township and Former Kingston Township. The proposed zoning amendments would now permit the establishment of a second residential unit in other areas of the municipality, including the downtown. The proposed amendments are intended to create affordable housing as they give homeowners who create them an income to assist with their mortgages and also increase supply in the rental market.

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    I want to know if the system being looked at would inspect at least yearly to ensure units are held and kept in compliance.

    Marc Halverson asked over 1 year ago

    Inspections would be required when a second residential unit is being created as part of the Building Permit process. The City does not conduct yearly inspections on second residential units, however property owners are required to comply with all applicable by-laws such as the Property Standards By-law and Yards By-law. City staff will also respond to any complaints made with respect to a second residential unit not being in compliance with the Fire Code or Ontario Building Code.

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    Why?? What is the rationale for this suggestion?

    ehbradley875 asked over 1 year ago

    The Planning Act requires municipalities to establish Official Plan policies and Zoning Bylaw provisions allowing second residential units in single detached, semi-detached and row houses, as well as in ancillary structures. Aside from creating affordable housing opportunities, there are a number of other benefits to permitting second residential units. This includes providing more housing options for residents as well as making more efficient use of existing infrastructure and the existing housing stock.

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    1. Does secondary residence requirement mean that the owner of the principal residence has to actually live in the building? 2. Can an owner have more than one principal residence? This is very worrisome around Queen's University where whole blocks of houses are essentially rented out to students.

    Armand Garnet Ruffo asked over 1 year ago

    The proposed amendments do not require the property owner to reside in the principal residence or the second residential unit. The Planning Act does not allow for the establishment of zoning provisions that would result in distinguishing on the basis of relationship. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has also indicated that Zoning By-laws should permit occupancy of the principal residence or second residential unit regardless of whether or not the owner of the home is a resident of either unit.

    The principal residence is considered to be the primary home on the property and the second residential unit is accessory to that use. If a property owner owns more than one residential property, they could also own more than one principal residence. The proposed regulations are only recommending one second residential unit per lot.

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    Will all secondary residential unit be inspected and be required to have two egresses and doors opening outward for fire safety?

    johnparks asked over 1 year ago

    All second residential units are required to be in compliance with the Ontario Building Code and Fire Code. A building permit is required for the establishment of a second residential unit, and as part of the process inspections occur during and after construction. The Ontario Building Code requires access to egress along with natural lighting for bedrooms.

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    I fear that this will lead to more out-buildings being built in the university district. I can see the appeal for this in the suburbs, but not in the downtown neighbourhoods.

    Jozer asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I wish I thought this policy was not going to turn areas like Calvin Park and Polson Park into a student ghetto whilst reducing the return older people will get on their homes as they move out. Seniors' housing options are accessible apartments (elevators, secure entrance, walker accessible) but so far most apartments and all retirement homes are too expensive for most seniors. We need more apartment buildings and condos in the west and north ends further from the expensive downtown area.

    DIANNE asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    Do not add second residents. It will just lead to an upsurge in Air B&B and open the potential for slum lords.

    Stranger asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    My comment on this proposal is that it is an idea whose time has come years ago. Affordable housing is at a crisis level in Kingston. There is little room to build new. I suggest the option of putting second stories on single story homes as well.

    aairov asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I am in favour of the amendments.

    peterburbidge asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I hope they're appropriately taxed some landlords have illegal units I think all secondary and or 3rd units should be registered on the property deed to be taxed as they put a further strain on city's infrastructure water septic and fire services and they need to be up to current building codes as some are cheaply built and are in violation of fire/building codes.. I'm a former contractor and I speak from experience and have seen some real nightmares when comes to secondary units..

    Steve Coville asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.