Scanning real estate listings you’ll come across some coined terms time and time again – in-law suite, income potential, nanny suite – these are common. But what really is an in-law
suite, versus a legal apartment?
Finding a fully legal apartment within a single family residential home isn’t an easy task in many cases, for the very reason that municipal building codes are very specific and tight, for
good reason. But, let’s face it – many people are not willing to pour money into something that they can potentially rent fairly easily anyways, without following code.
Risky? Yes. Questionable? Yes. But still very common today.
In order for an apartment to be deemed legal, many things must be compliant – including very specific fire code materials, zoning bylaws, ceiling heights, access and exit routes, window
and floor sizes, fire-rated drywall separations, parking and, in some cases, how long the unit has been in use. If any of these things aren’t in order, then most likely the apartment is not legal.
It’s very important that the buyer and seller is fully aware of what is being represented in any listing of property, and moreover if the buyer needs a legal apartment in the home they are purchasing in order to make mortgage payments they need to be on high alert that a legal unit is what they are getting.
Nanny suites or in-law suites are typically basements with a bathroom – that’s it. Sometimes they are gorgeous and ideal for renting in every way shape and form, however not legal. Sometimes they are legal but unsightly.
Basically, if a seller doesn’t outright say that what they are selling has a legal apartment, it’s safe to assume it isn’t.
By Emily Norris Nov 16, 2011