Toronto's garden suite scheme off to slow start

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Garden suite

In 2022, Toronto amended its zoning laws to permit accessory dwelling units (ADUs), better known as garden suites, on most residential properties, aiming to address the pressing need for more housing options.

However, recent data shows a slow uptake: out of a total of 244 applications to build garden suites submitted over the past two years, 57 are currently under construction, and just six have been completed.

These figures come as no surprise to some housing experts, including Gord Perks, Toronto City Councillor and Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee:

“The number of places where [garden suites] can conveniently fit without creating all kinds of secondary problems is a lot more limited than a lot of the advocates for them thought.”

“They’re also fairly expensive to create,” Perks said.

For instance, a 570 sq ft prefabricated garden suite showcased at this year’s National Home Show was priced at over $200,000, while anecdotal evidence suggests completion costs including planning and approvals can range between $450,000 and $600,000.

However, emerging alternatives starting at $65,000 could offer a more accessible entry point for homeowners. And Glyn Holmes, co-founder of Resimate, Canada's first ADU marketplace, notes growing customer interest in garden suites. Since its inception in 2023, Resimate has already completed approximately 12,000 lot assessments.

If enough landlords are incentivized to build and rent out these units, they could significantly bolster the city's housing supply and alleviate some of the strain on the rental market.

For property managers, studying up on ADU regulations and pricing data could provide a competitive advantage.

More rental supply headlines

Top 3 reasons you should invest in garden suites – PayProp

Inside Toronto’s very first backyard garden suite – Toronto Star

Apartment construction surged last year but demand still outpacing supply – CBC

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