Why allow secondary and backyard suites?

  • Secondary and backyard suites are a form of housing that increases density gently and that are generally a slightly more affordable form of rental housing.
  • Having access to safe, suitable, and reasonably priced housing is foundational to strong, vibrant, and inclusive communities. 
  • Secondary and backyard suites can add to the rental housing stock without notable physical change to established neighbourhoods. 
  • More residents in new and established neighborhoods adds to the support for public and private services, like recreation, transit, and retail. 
  • Secondary and backyard suites provide options for ageing in place and multigenerational households. 

What are some benefits of secondary and backyard suites for homeowners?

  • An additional source of income.
  • A place for children, elderly parents or relatives to live who may require care, but would benefit from a private space.
  • Retirement planning options – some homeowners shift from a main dwelling to the secondary suite and rent out the main suite to save money after retirement.
  • A place for live-in care givers to reside.
  • Allows a homeowner to afford more home as the income of the secondary suite can be counted towards a mortgage.

What are some benefits of secondary and backyard suites for renters?

  • Rental housing that is often located near parks, schools, and other amenities. 
  • Rental housing that is often less expensive. 
  • Secondary suites and backyard suites, often necessitate there is a more direct relationship with the landlord.

Why is the municipality considering secondary and backyard suites?

Currently our By-laws vary in terms of where and how secondary and backyard suites are permitted. Some don’t allow for them at all, and some only allow them in certain areas, with varying design and land use controls. Amending our By-laws to permit secondary and backyard suites in a consistent manner will make it easier for homeowners to take advantage of the benefit a secondary or backyard suite may provide. 

Do we need more rental housing?

The municipality has a relatively strong supply of rental accommodations –from 2000 to 2016 the average vacancy rate has been around 3.0%. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s most recent (2017) vacancy rate for Halifax is 2.3%, a decrease from previous years. Secondary and backyard suites provide options to increase rental housing supply that can be blended into existing neighbourhoods.