Garden suites now approved by City of Toronto

Over three years after small laneway houses began popping up in Toronto’s back alleys, the City of Toronto has now passed approval to add a new type of housing to its supply — garden suites.

What is a Garden Suite? Garden suites, similar to laneway homes, in that they are a secondary small homes facing towards the house and its garden, ideally at the back of a lot. 

Garden suites in Toronto will likely be a more modest version of a laneway suite.  Laneway suites can up to 850 square feet – the size of a generous 2 bedroom condo in Toronto.   This will be an ideal situation for properties that are long and narrow, where a homeowner can add a rental suite or second property without severing the land.

This is not a new idea – coach houses have been around for a hundred years, and can still be found in the City.   However, they are usually found in old, established neighborhoods because they were designed for horses and their tack for the wealthy upper class. 

Converted Coach House in High Park Toronto


Toronto’s Planning and Housing Committee adopted the motion to expand the rules that currently make it easier for homeowners to build laneway suites to include garden suites as well and approved the vote on the matter Feb. 2.

Currently, someone would have to rezone their backyard to build a garden suite, which requires a public process and approval from neighbours, whereas laneway suites have “as-of-right” permission, which means special approval is not needed.

Under the current proposal, suites could have a footprint up to 650 square feet, compared to 860 square feet for laneway suites, and could be two stories with a maximum height of six metres.

Garden suites are one element in a multi-pronged effort to add supply to Toronto’s housing market, which has faced a crunch for years that has resulted in skyrocketing prices.

Several years ago, laneway suites were permitted.  Already, there are 250 permits for laneway suites, which is quickly increasing.   Experts predict garden suites could quadruple the number of secondary suites in the city in 10 years time.

Laneway house in Dovercourt Park, Toronto


Why is the City of Toronto allowing this? 

In line with the Provincial Planning act, the city is reinforcing the mandate to add more density in housing to accommodate future growth in the area.  And, if you’ve been following the extraordinary jump in housing prices recently, supply of new homes is critical.  

As a matter of fact, in the Scarborough Community Renewal Organization Town Hall presentation last week put on by the organization & the City of Toronto, many areas in Scarborough are increasing density with the approval of densification (condos) around major malls and transportation hubs like GO station.   

Additionally an important part of the plan is to increase the “missing middle”.  The Missing Middle refers to buildings that contain a higher density than a single-family house and a lower density than a mid-rise building. This type of typology includes laneway housing, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes (and other 'plexes'), townhouses, and low-rise apartment buildings.

What exactly is the Ontario Plan for Housing anyway? 

Under the Planning Act, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing may issue provincial statements on matters related to land use planning that are of provincial interest.

The Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (PPS) applies provincewide and contains policy direction related to:

  • growth and development
  • the use and management of resources
  • the protection of the environment
  • public health and safety

Municipalities are the primary implementers of PPS policies through:

  • official plans
  • zoning bylaws
  • decisions on other planning matters

The PPS provides policy direction to help build strong, healthy communities in Ontario. For example, to help achieve strong communities where people want to live, work and play, the PPS provides policies for:

  • the efficient use of land and infrastructure
  • an appropriate range and mix of housing options, including affordable housing, and densities (the number of people, jobs, and building floor area per hectare) to meet the needs of current and future residents
  • the protection of employment areas to promote economic development and competitiveness
  • the promotion of healthy, integrated and viable rural areas


Other useful articles on Garden Suites in Toronto and Laneway Suites in Toronto can be found here: 

Full article from Global news on Garden Suites

City of Toronto Website on Garden Suite Draft Rules

City of Toronto Laneway Suite Housing

How much does it cost to build a Laneway House?

Provincial Planning Act

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A disturbing trend I've come across recently is the fraud in the rental space.   As an agent who handles a fair share of rentals; these issues have shown up over several ways this year.   I'll tell you about 3 instances I've had and the red flags that appeared with each! 

When I'm representing a landlord and an application comes in, I spend a lot of time going through an applicants documentation and getting references and looking through their background.  Here's what I do:

  • Call their employer by finding the employer's website and calling through their office to confirm employment.  I don't just call the supervisor on the application
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  • Check social media & linked in
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  • Look at the credit report for signs of altering

With those things in mind, let's look at 3 things that have happened to me this year!

1.  Student rental Scam - fake rental and landlord

First of all, you should never have to pay to submit a rental application, or be asked for a deposit before you get a chance to see the place.   These scams are generally ads on sites like Kijijii and Facebook for rentals that look too good to be true.  They also steal MLS listings for homes and advertise them at lower rates.  I came across one recently through a family friend desperate for some student housing.  It was a big scam; and when I called them out they 'protested too much'.    Here's how to spot these scammers:

  • They demand payment to submit a rental application
  • They demand a deposit before you see the unit
  • Makes excuses why they are not available to speak to on the phone 
  • Will only communicate through messenger, text or email
  • The advertised price is way lower than other rentals
  • Their Facebook profile was just created
  • Their Facebook name does not match their user name ID (see the URL) 

2. Fake Rental Applications   

There are some very good forged documents out there.  I had some people submit an application on a lease I was advertising and here's what I found during the checks, among the other checks I did as above :

  • Inconsistencies in addresses on the application
  • Employment letter does not look real - no header or footer with information on the company letterhead

3. Forged Tenacy Papers

I had a call from a gal who had a great story, good employment, good credit, moving to Toronto from outside the city for work, can't come in to look for a place so needed virtual showings.  Could I help her find a place.  Sounds great right?  

Now I don't usually check tenants out before I help them (and I'd helped out a client with an out of town move this year already in a similar situation)  But with everything going on right now, I felt it couldn't hurt to see what her references would say.   So she sent in her application & 

then came the paperwork - the address of her job didn't match up with her story.  The company had never heard of her or her supervisor.  There was even no property listed at the home she had put for her address!  Other red flags for scammers include what she did:

  • get overly upset when called out 
  • provide complicated excuses for 'mistakes' on application forms
  • call the fact checker a liar, unprofessional, etc.

So be careful out there folks! 


A big thank you to the communities of Guildwood, West Rouge & Port Union for the terrific support last Saturday for my Community Shredding Event.  About 30 families participated - and their generous food donations filled our Jeep to the brim!   The food donations were taken straight to Feed Scarborough - the Scarborough Food Security initiative and will be distributed to local satellite food banks in the area.   Judging from the huge line up outside the Manse Rd. food bank Saturday, it's much needed. 

Chartwell Guildwood was my partner for this event and provided the venue and great snacks.  Thank you Kelly & Dianne for your wonderful support.  As always, Papersavers was gracious, friendly, professional and helpful!  

One interesting sideline - My husband, myself, Dianne and Alex from papersavers all grew up within the same area!   Such a big city/small world!