What Real Estate Agents Should Know About Modification Section 9.8
In addition to grandma, a grandmother’s apartment can contain some serious dangers to a new owner and anyone involved in the sale of such a unit. It’s one more thing for real estate professionals to worry about, because the consequences of an apartment being declared illegal or closed can be disastrous for the buyer, who may seek compensation from real estate agents, home inspectors, or anyone. it has not issued all the appropriate warnings.
Any detached unit with its own cooking, eating, sleeping and toilet facilities in a townhouse or townhouse or townhouse is classified as an “accessory dwelling unit”. It does not matter if it is a basement apartment to rent or a unit to accommodate a family member or a babysitter.
For the past two decades in Ontario, it has been a roller coaster ride for homeowners and the real estate community. In 1994, the New Democracy government changed the law so that municipalities could no longer ban basement apartments. In May 2001, the Conservative government reversed the rules and most cities use zoning controls to block illegal new accessory homes.
Strict fire regulations are in effect, and any existing apartment that was occupied in November 1995 is allowed, provided they meet the requirements of the Ontario Fire Code amendment to Section 9.8.
There’s also a new registration system, so officials can monitor compliance, and some existing penalties are severe enough to be taken seriously (fines of $ 25,000 or more, or even a year on the slammer!)
Before closing deals involving apartments in the basement or duplex, triplex or any other multiple dwellings, real estate agents should ensure that buyers have obtained written confirmation as to whether the apartments are registered or not, and that they have been inspected and They have been determined to comply with the Fire Code.
Real estate agents can face angry and disappointed buyers because under the new rules, an illegal or non-compliant apartment is easy to spot and easy to close, and it can be costly for the new owner to renovate and keep it running.
Certification of a granny floor in Ontario requires inspections by the local Fire Department and the Electrical Safety Authority and possibly another by a local Ontario Building Code Official. In most cases, at least some renovations or repairs are required. Even if renovations are not needed to comply with the fire code, the fees alone can be a few hundred dollars.
Some areas of Ontario Fire Code Retrofit Section 9.8 can be difficult to address, especially if the apartment was added as an afterthought in a typical home. For example, ceiling tiles and wood paneling in a basement apartment may be combustible and not meet current requirements. These items may need to be removed or covered, and homeowners are sometimes ordered to install a sprinkler system.
A professional home inspection cannot certify a self-contained apartment, but a skilled inspector can identify the magnitude of renovations required to comply with the new regulations. It can also be used to alert the prospective buyer that the unit carries additional liability and additional obligation.
As for the steps a real estate agent should take if the home includes a grandmother’s apartment, notifying the prospective buyer that it may be subject to regulation is definitely at the top of the list. In Ontario, that would seem absolutely necessary to avoid a nondisclosure charge. In other jurisdictions, it might be prudent to do so, but it is better to err on the side of providing more information than less.
The fines and other legal consequences of not complying with the law are only the most obvious problems faced by the owner of a unit that is not certified. It is also obvious to have evicted the tenant. But keep in mind that insurance coverage or insurance claims can be denied, mortgages can be denied or voided, and an injured tenant may have grounds for a civil lawsuit.
Not all jurisdictions are as tough as Ontario … yet. But a real estate agent can meet his professional obligations and avoid becoming entangled in a lawsuit just by issuing a warning. And it’s worth doing, whether your customer is the seller or the buyer.
A self-contained apartment can add real value to a home, especially if the buyer wants to have a family member close by, but not too close, or if the buyer requires rental income to offset the mortgage payments. In fact, it is the reason why some people buy such a property.