Registration: Basement Apartments and Second Suites

The following is a brief and legal summary of the City of Markham's Registration of Two-Unit Residential Occupancies Bylaw taken from the City's By-law Guide for Markham Homeowners.

It explains, in plain language and with information links, what residents must know about specific City services and operations, which may affect a Markham homeowners' property.

Registration Two-Unit Residential Occupancies By-law

In Brief

In general, “two-unit houses” are not permitted in Markham, but there are exceptions.

Two-unit houses (housekeeping or second suites) have two completely separate residential units; each with its own kitchen, bathroom, living area and a way to exit the building (which may be through another residential unit).

If you own an existing two-unit home or are considering creating a completely separate second suite, you must follow very specific regulations and procedures. Homeowners have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of all of the inhabitants of the home, including the tenants.

Exception: If the second suite was created before November 16, 1995, and the building’s owner is able to prove this, it may be permitted as long as it meets fire and building code regulations.

What You Must Know

All two-unit houses must be registered with the City. Both units will be inspected by City officials to ensure compliance with building and fire safety standards. This helps ensure the safety of both owners and tenants.

Before constructing a second suite (common example is a basement apartment)

  1. Contact Building Standards at 905-475-4870 to determine if they are allowed in your area.

    If you own an existing two-unit home:
    1. Call Markham Fire & Emergency Services at 905-415-7521 to arrange for a fire inspection.
    2. Register the home with the City of Markham as a Two-Unit House by completing the Two-Unit House Declaration Form [PDF] and submitting with the registration fee to:

       Clerk's Department
       City of Markham
       101 Town Centre Boulevard
       Markham, Ontario L3R 9W3

The fee for the initial inspection by the Fire Department is $300. The fee for registering a two-unit house is $150.

Occupying a two-unit house without registering it may result in court action and fines against the owner of up to $25,000 per charge. Personal damages that may result from a fire can lead to legal action by the tenants against the owner.

Second suites that are not permitted must be removed. Alternatively, the owner may make an application for an amendment to the zoning by-law.

When in doubt, check it out! Help is always available.

For more information call the By-law Enforcement and Licensing Department at 905-479-7782 or email customerservice@markham.ca.

Related information: