Toronto Income Property Newsletter: March 2009

As news of economic doom and gloom continues, I can safely say that the Toronto Income Property market hasn’t experienced a serious downturn … yet! Quality duplexes and triplexes are continuing to trade and it doesn’t seem to me that there has been as big a price decrease as in single family homes. Realtors that price their properties properly are not really getting caught and there were even a few multiple offers (remember them) last month on a buildings in primo locations. I expect this to continue into March as more properties hit the market.

Where are the nicest income propreties in Toronto? Which areas are always going to be a safe bet for landlords?

There are certain Toronto neighbourhoods that are always going to be attractive to investors. From a rental property perspective, a property close to the subway line, restaurants and shopping tend to be more desirable to both to owners and renters. Other factors that high-end renters tend to look for are proximity to the more prestigious schools, sports clubs, etc. Properties close to the middle of the city – Yonge Street from Bloor Street all the way up to York Mills – get the highest rents. Other areas like the Beach or High Park that have strong locational benefits are also very attractive to renters who are looking to pay a little more.

Where are the nicest income properties in town? Almost every exclusive neighbourhood in Toronto has duplexes and multiplexes mixed amongst the single-family homes. There is always activity in the high end income property market. You may not think about spending over a million dollars in Rosedale or Forest Hill but there are many homes in these areas that have fantastic rental suites in them. Key streets include Madison, Lowther, and Admiral in the Annex and streets like Maple & South in Rosedale. Sometimes suites can rent for as high as $4500 a month in these properties. That may seem like a ridiculous amount of money to pay on rent, but believe me, there is a market for these kinds of rentals.

Statistics show us that live-in owners and investors are comfortable paying big dollars for upper-end investment properties. Since most of them will not yield a strong cash-on-cash return, I’m sure they’re being bought based on location and the hope of eventual capital appreciation. Cap rates don’t generally apply to high end rental properties.

One area that has been very desirable is prime Cabbagetown which occupies a small portion of C08. There have been some very nice duplexes and triplexes that have sold, particularly east of Parliament close to the Riverdale Farm. It seems like this section of town is beginning to closely mirror Riverdale on the east side of the valley.

Second suites (basment apartments) are legal in the City of Toronto in all single family and semi-detached homes, providing they meet certain criteria, including fire and building codes. This background information was adapted from information provided by City of Toronto planning staff. For legal and zoning information on second suites in other Greater Toronto Area municipalities, please contact your local planning department.

A second suite is a self-contained unit (rental or rent-free) in a single-detached or semi-detached house. Most second suites are basement apartments. They have also been called granny flats, in-law suites and accessory apartments.

In the past, second suites were permitted in some areas of the City (York, East York, and parts of former Etobicoke, North York and Toronto). Some parts of the City have had a long experience with this form of housing. As well, provincial legislation, in force between July 1994 and November 1995, allowed for the creation of second suites in all areas of the province.

In July 1999, City Council adopted the second suites by-law. This by-law was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) by a number of residents’ groups and individuals. The OMB held a hearing on the appeals in February 2000. The OMB issued a decision in April approving the City’s by-law but directed that two amendments be made. The amendments dealt with: (1) parking provisions in some neighbourhoods in the former Toronto, and (2) building alterations.

The new by-law permits second suites in all single-detached and semi-detached homes throughout the new City of Toronto — with certain conditions.

Some of the conditions include:

the second suite must be self-contained with its own kitchen and bathroom.

the house, including any additions, must be at least 5 years old;

the floor area of the second suite must be smaller than the remaining unit;

in most cases, homes with a second suite must have at least 2 parking spaces and parking can be in tandem (one behind the other). There is an exception for parts of the former City of Toronto (R2, R3 and R4 districts) where only 1 parking space is required for a house with a second suite. Please contact the City of Toronto’s Urban Planning and Development Services Department to determine if a property is located in a R2, R3, or R4 district.

Before planning any changes to the outside appearance of a dwelling the homeowner should contact the City of Toronto’s Urban Planning and Development Services Department; and

all new second suites must comply with the Ontario Building Code and require a building permit. Existing second suites must comply with the Fire Code as well as zoning and property standards.

The unit will have to be inspected by Fire Department staff. There is a fee for the inspection and you may be required to upgrade the suite to meet the code requirements and other standards. Contact the City’s Urban Planning and Development Services Department for more information

There is currently no grant or loan program for second suites. The City is discussing the potential for a program with senior levels of government. TREB’s Government Relations staff is monitoring this initiative and will inform members if the City implements a program.

In most cases, there will be little impact on property taxes. A major exception would be where the second suite is created by constructing an addition, thereby significantly adding to the value of a house.

For specific zoning, property standards, or fire and building code questions please contact the City of Toronto’s Urban Planning and Development Services Department.


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