5 Steps: How to Make Your Rental Apartment Legal

Are you a homeowner looking to supplement your income? Do you find you have more than enough space in your home, and hate the idea of this space going unused? You may have considered having a rental apartment in your home and are keen to the idea of having tenants live in your unused space.

This is a wonderful option for supplementing your income, and with the lack of available rental housing, it shouldn’t be hard to find tenants ready to move in as soon as you post your listing. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as snapping your fingers; to have a full-functioning rental space, you need to make sure you meet all legal requirements and follow every step possible before renting out to tenants.

Step 1: Check with Your City

The very first step is to ensure that you are permitted to create a rental apartment based on your municipality. Each municipality is different, so be sure to find out if you are legally allowed to have a basement rental apartment before you begin planning. You can either speak to someone in person, call, or go online.

Step 2: Planning and Permits

Once your rental apartment has been permitted and registered, you can begin thinking about the layout, which is where floor plans and blueprints come in handy. Plans must be submitted, permits need to be taken out, and work needs to be approved when creating a second unit in your home. If you must add a kitchen, bathroom, or bedrooms into your unit, you will need to have drawn-to-scale plans and hire contractors and engineers to make sure everything is done properly and legally. You will need to make sure you have all electrical wiring, plumbing, and insulation is done properly, which is where the professionals will help you.

Step 3: Ensure There’s an Escape

There must also be a means of egress – an exit for your tenants. Most of the time, this is a separate exit (which most tenants and landlords prefer as it gives added privacy to both parties), but it can be a shared exit if the tenants have safe access to it in all situations. A window is another suitable exit for renters, but it has to meet specific sizing requirements to be declared an escape.

Step 4: Be Fire Safe

Another very important thing to be sure of is that your rental apartment meets all legal fire protection standards. Each unit in the home must have a fire detector that can be heard through closed doors. The walls and ceilings of the apartment must also comply with fire containment standards, ensuring that everyone in the unit would have time to safely evacuate the premises in the event of a fire. This means a lot of consideration must go into the selection of materials used for doors, walls, ceilings and flooring. If your rental apartment does not meet the standard requirements, it may be deemed unsafe and therefore illegal.

Step 5: Make it Home

Once you’ve got all the technical aspects out of the way, the fun begins! Choosing the kitchen countertops, flooring, and lighting fixtures can be a great way to add your personal touch to the unit you are renting out. Then comes the process of finding the perfect tenant to fill your rental, which, thanks to rental sites, you can reach a mass audience of eager potential tenants. But remember, unless you follow the steps to ensuring your unit is legal, you will find your dreams of renting to supplement your income come to a halt.

About Nancy Savio – 4Rent.ca

Nancy Savio is a Contributing Editor for Media Classified, the parent company of 4Rent.ca. 4Rent has been successfully connecting apartment hunters and property managers since 2009. Prospective tenants can explore a variety of rental listings across Canada, including condo-like apartments, single home-dwellings, student housing and more.