Toronto has become so unaffordable that people can now legally rent out and live in tiny shelters in people's backyards. On June 6th, the Toronto and East York Community Council approved laneway housing in the city, allowing homeowners to build a tiny structure at the end of their laneway and rent it out as an apartment.
Until now, homeowners have used their laneway space for garages and storage sheds. But, following in metro Vancouver's footsteps, Toronto's affordability crisis is driving people to convert their laneway structures into cozy little apartments.
Thankfully, the council has all the specifics mapped out, from the square footage to the angle of the roof. If the laneway houses meet all the criteria, owners are welcome to rent them out as they please.
The tiny house trend is far from new, and there's no question that laneway apartments can be just as desirable as a newly renovated condo. But, they're not exactly convenient. All laneway houses will be completely dependent on the main property for their water and electricity supply.
Evergreen, a local non-profit organization, cites the benefits and barriers of laneway housing in Toronto. Laneways in the city are already very narrow, driving and parking in them will be even harder to do when they're lined with apartments. Waste and emergency vehicles can't fit through laneways at all. Fire safety and privacy are also major concerns.
But, laneway housing is also hugely beneficial to the city in many ways. Other than giving people more affordable living options, laneway rentals increase safety in the city, allow homeowners to supplement their income, and preserve the city's character. They're also built at a slower pace, so they don't disrupt their neighbours' use of the laneway.
As Toronto rent continues to soar, laneway houses seem like the best use of underutilized space. According to one Toronto city councillor, "any time you can convert a place for a car to a place for a human being, it’s a win.”
To see the full list of regulations for Toronto's laneway housing, click here.