Across Canada there are literally thousands of landlords who rent out an income suite within their own home, finding that this is a great way to make a little extra money each month. Income suites have many advantages after all, though of course there are disadvantages as well!
Is Your Income Suite Legal?
Though we know there are a large number of basement income suites rented across the country, we can’t find out how many there are for sure because there are no detailed statistics. Many income suites have not been declared to the local authorities, so technically they are not registered or accounted for. This is quite a common practice after all, though if you’re considering renting out your own basement suite we would advise that you do it officially. A properly registered apartment is easier to rent and won't get you into trouble should you ever need to dispute a rental issue.
How you legalize an apartment depends on your local authority and municipal rules, so make sure you check there first. Some local governments have very tight restrictions on new basement income suites, while others have banned the addition of kitchens altogether, so what you can do really does depend on where you live. You may need to seek permission to change the zoning on your property, and whether or not it is legally required you should also have a fire safety check performed. This will be good for your own peace of mind, but can also be a plus point to tell a prospective tenant.
There is also a chance that your attempt to legalize a rental suite will be denied altogether. No matter how you approach it, your house may not get permission for the addition of a unit.
Advantages of Renting Out an Income Suite
Renting out a suite within your own home can come with many advantages. Many homeowners find that this is a great way of helping them to buy a home they may not otherwise be able to afford. If you’re looking for a home to buy right now, you can look at the potential of the basement and factor in your monthly rent cheques when working out what mortgage you can afford. Of course, always make sure you give yourself some leeway in case there are months when you don’t have a tenant.
Having someone live in your basement rather than renting an apartment that’s miles away from you also helps in terms of maintenance and other issues. If you’re just upstairs it saves you time and money when having to get something repaired. And, although you must respect your tenant’s privacy, some landlords feel that having a tenant in their basement makes it easier to check that the rental is being looked after.
Disadvantages of Renting Out an Income Suite
Of course, having someone in your basement full time has its disadvantages too. You may feel that some of your own privacy and freedom has been lost, particularly if you’re always worrying about how much noise you, or the tenant, is making. Unless the space between the basement ceiling and first floor flooring has been properly sound insulated, there will always be sound carrying between the two.
You also need to think about what you are sharing with the tenant. Will the tenant have their own laundry facilities or will they share with you? Sharing can be inconvenient, and what happens if the tenant does something to damage the washer or dryer?
Parking can also be a problem. Do you have enough space for a tenant to park on the driveway without having to worry about you or them being blocked in? And then there are common spaces, like the yard, though the best way to work this out is to make it clear in the onset as to what spaces the tenant can and can’t use.