7 reasons why laneway houses might be the future for Toronto renters

News Jun 08, 2017 by David Nickle Parkdale Villager

Grannie flats, man-caves, back-yard studios — call them what you will, tiny, fully-serviced homes on the same property as a larger house have been around for a long time.

But laneway suites — which not only sit in the backyard of a house, but also front on to an accessible laneway — are a different breed. And according to a new study, they could be a crucial tool in dealing with Toronto’s rental housing shortage.

The study, from Lanescape and the Evergreen Foundation, will be introduced at the June meeting of Toronto Community Council in a motion from Beaches-East York Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon and Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao.  If council goes ahead with it, the streets, and laneways of Toronto could look very different before too long, as they turn into walkable streets for new tenants.

In advance of that debate, here are seven conclusions that the study has drawn.

1. They have real potential to put a dent in Toronto’s rental housing shortage.

 Right now, according to the report, half of Toronto residents are renters. But there’s not much recognition of that in new housing — which means that many renters are in existing secondary suites in a house occupied by the owner/landlord. Secondary laneway suites would increase that supply dramatically.

2. They have a real potential to help out homeowners trying to budget around large mortgages and increasing utility costs.

Just the same as renting out a basement apartment would, but without losing space / privacy in the home to a tenant.

3. They could make laneways safer.

Right now, most laneways in Toronto go unnoticed, and are potential hideaways for crime and drug dealing. By building a unit facing on the laneway, there are “more eyes on the street.”

4. They help tenants gain access to desirable, low-density neighbourhoods.

Laneway houses add units to a neighbourhood without having to put up a tower. Just like basement apartments and second suites do now.

5. They might not have to be that big, even though that’s how they are now.

Current laneway houses existing in Toronto neighbourhoods tend to be larger — because, the report’s authors argue, the constructions must undergo such an onerous permitting process and so it makes no sense to build modestly. A more streamlined process might make for more appropriately-sized laneway houses. The report recommends allowing as-of-right permitting, exempting the suites from development charges or permit fees, and regulating orientation of entrances to the laneway, as well as windows, balcony and roof.

6. What about emergency vehicles? Laneways are narrow, after all.

The report recommends that access of at least 0.9 metres be maintained from the main street to the laneway house, through the yard, and that they be permitted only within 45 metres of a fire hydrant. They would use the main home’s address with a prefix ‘R.’ For rear.

7. And parking? Forget about it.

 According to the report, renters are less likely to own a car and car ownership’s on the way down. Leave it up to the homeowner to either supply parking or leave it off.

7 reasons why laneway houses might be the future for Toronto renters

News Jun 08, 2017 by David Nickle Parkdale Villager

Grannie flats, man-caves, back-yard studios — call them what you will, tiny, fully-serviced homes on the same property as a larger house have been around for a long time.

But laneway suites — which not only sit in the backyard of a house, but also front on to an accessible laneway — are a different breed. And according to a new study, they could be a crucial tool in dealing with Toronto’s rental housing shortage.

The study, from Lanescape and the Evergreen Foundation, will be introduced at the June meeting of Toronto Community Council in a motion from Beaches-East York Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon and Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao.  If council goes ahead with it, the streets, and laneways of Toronto could look very different before too long, as they turn into walkable streets for new tenants.

In advance of that debate, here are seven conclusions that the study has drawn.

1. They have real potential to put a dent in Toronto’s rental housing shortage.

 Right now, according to the report, half of Toronto residents are renters. But there’s not much recognition of that in new housing — which means that many renters are in existing secondary suites in a house occupied by the owner/landlord. Secondary laneway suites would increase that supply dramatically.

2. They have a real potential to help out homeowners trying to budget around large mortgages and increasing utility costs.

Just the same as renting out a basement apartment would, but without losing space / privacy in the home to a tenant.

3. They could make laneways safer.

Right now, most laneways in Toronto go unnoticed, and are potential hideaways for crime and drug dealing. By building a unit facing on the laneway, there are “more eyes on the street.”

4. They help tenants gain access to desirable, low-density neighbourhoods.

Laneway houses add units to a neighbourhood without having to put up a tower. Just like basement apartments and second suites do now.

5. They might not have to be that big, even though that’s how they are now.

Current laneway houses existing in Toronto neighbourhoods tend to be larger — because, the report’s authors argue, the constructions must undergo such an onerous permitting process and so it makes no sense to build modestly. A more streamlined process might make for more appropriately-sized laneway houses. The report recommends allowing as-of-right permitting, exempting the suites from development charges or permit fees, and regulating orientation of entrances to the laneway, as well as windows, balcony and roof.

6. What about emergency vehicles? Laneways are narrow, after all.

The report recommends that access of at least 0.9 metres be maintained from the main street to the laneway house, through the yard, and that they be permitted only within 45 metres of a fire hydrant. They would use the main home’s address with a prefix ‘R.’ For rear.

7. And parking? Forget about it.

 According to the report, renters are less likely to own a car and car ownership’s on the way down. Leave it up to the homeowner to either supply parking or leave it off.

7 reasons why laneway houses might be the future for Toronto renters

News Jun 08, 2017 by David Nickle Parkdale Villager

Grannie flats, man-caves, back-yard studios — call them what you will, tiny, fully-serviced homes on the same property as a larger house have been around for a long time.

But laneway suites — which not only sit in the backyard of a house, but also front on to an accessible laneway — are a different breed. And according to a new study, they could be a crucial tool in dealing with Toronto’s rental housing shortage.

The study, from Lanescape and the Evergreen Foundation, will be introduced at the June meeting of Toronto Community Council in a motion from Beaches-East York Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon and Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao.  If council goes ahead with it, the streets, and laneways of Toronto could look very different before too long, as they turn into walkable streets for new tenants.

In advance of that debate, here are seven conclusions that the study has drawn.

1. They have real potential to put a dent in Toronto’s rental housing shortage.

 Right now, according to the report, half of Toronto residents are renters. But there’s not much recognition of that in new housing — which means that many renters are in existing secondary suites in a house occupied by the owner/landlord. Secondary laneway suites would increase that supply dramatically.

2. They have a real potential to help out homeowners trying to budget around large mortgages and increasing utility costs.

Just the same as renting out a basement apartment would, but without losing space / privacy in the home to a tenant.

3. They could make laneways safer.

Right now, most laneways in Toronto go unnoticed, and are potential hideaways for crime and drug dealing. By building a unit facing on the laneway, there are “more eyes on the street.”

4. They help tenants gain access to desirable, low-density neighbourhoods.

Laneway houses add units to a neighbourhood without having to put up a tower. Just like basement apartments and second suites do now.

5. They might not have to be that big, even though that’s how they are now.

Current laneway houses existing in Toronto neighbourhoods tend to be larger — because, the report’s authors argue, the constructions must undergo such an onerous permitting process and so it makes no sense to build modestly. A more streamlined process might make for more appropriately-sized laneway houses. The report recommends allowing as-of-right permitting, exempting the suites from development charges or permit fees, and regulating orientation of entrances to the laneway, as well as windows, balcony and roof.

6. What about emergency vehicles? Laneways are narrow, after all.

The report recommends that access of at least 0.9 metres be maintained from the main street to the laneway house, through the yard, and that they be permitted only within 45 metres of a fire hydrant. They would use the main home’s address with a prefix ‘R.’ For rear.

7. And parking? Forget about it.

 According to the report, renters are less likely to own a car and car ownership’s on the way down. Leave it up to the homeowner to either supply parking or leave it off.