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This page contains information on registration of two-unit houses, Second Suites, and Boarding Lodging & Rooming Houses in Barrie.

Two-Unit Houses

A two-unit house is one that contains two separate dwelling units. Commonly, a two-unit house starts as a single dwelling unit (detached, semi-detached or townhouse) with a second dwelling unit later created (sometimes referred to as a second suite, in-law suite, or basement apartment).

Second Suites

On May 25, 2015, Council approved a policy to permit second suites, or adding apartments, to existing homes. The changes to the Zoning By-law came into effect shortly after. Any second suite that was created after February 18, 2015, is subject to the bylaw amendments.

The creation of a second suite involves the conversion of a single dwelling unit into a two-unit house. Living in a secondary suite is an attractive and affordable housing option for many residents. If you're thinking of constructing and registering a second suite in your home, please view the steps to add and/or register a second suite.

Two-Unit House Registration

As per By-law 2004-025, every Two Unit House in the City of Barrie must be registered. There are two processes for registration:

1. If the two unit house existed prior to July 14, 1994, and the use has not changed to this date, the Application to Register a Two Unit House must be completed and submitted to Planning Services. The registration process will include inspections by Property Standards and the Fire Department to ensure the units are safe (NOTE: If there are any deficiencies found in these inspections, a Building Permit may be needed to complete any work required). Once the units have successfully passed all inspections, the two unit house will be registered.

2. If the two unit house did not exist until after July 14, 1994 or does not currently exist, a Change of Use Permit must be obtained. Once the units have passed the final inspection, the two unit house will be automatically registered.

The City of Barrie maintains a map of all registered Second Suites which can be found at​.

FAQs: Second Suites
What are second suites?

Second Suites are second dwelling units located on one property typically found in basements of single dwelling units. A Second Suite can also be located in detached garages that have been converted into a dwelling unit.

Why is the City permitting them?

The Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act requires that municipalities across Ontario amend their planning documents to facilitate the creation of second suites. Second suites provide a form of affordable housing and help owners defray the cost of home ownership.

Second suites provide a form of affordable housing which is relatively simple to implement. Second suites will assist the City in increasing the vacancy rate to healthy standard while providing individuals defray the cost of home ownership.

Why not in the Georgian College area?

The City has an Incentive program to help facilitate purpose built student housing in the Georgian College area specifically to mitigate the impact of students in established neighbourhoods and to ensure that dedicated student housing is provided which is safe, clean and properly administered by a property management specialist. Allowing second suites would undermine these efforts and exacerbate the existing issues in the area.

What does "grandfathering" mean and how can I find out if my property is grandfathered?

Grandfathering is a term used to allow for uses to exist without meeting all or some of the bylaw standards and provisions.

To find out if your property is grandfathered, legal proof will have to be provided to Planning Services indicating the date the subject property contained a second dwelling unit (Second Suite).

How will second suites be enforced?

Generally second suites are enforced upon receipt of a complaint however pending the availability of staff resources, staff will also review rental advertisements both online and in printed media format.

What are the design standards?

Zoning bylaw standards for a second suite when contained in the principal dwelling shall have a  maximum of 2 bedrooms, provide a parking space, meet entrance requirements to the second suite and that only one second suite be permitted per lot.

Should the second suite be located in a detached accessory structure (garage) the second suite shall be connected to full municipal services, not exceed 50m2 in coverage, meet accessory structure location standards and provide a parking space.

Boarding Lodging & Rooming (BLR) Houses

Every BLR house (small or large, new or existing) must be licensed by the City. Written verification that the BLR house is in compliance with the requirements of the Ontario Building Code, Fire Code and the City’s Property Standards By-law must be provided to the By-law Services Office.

FAQs: Boarding Lodging & Rooming Houses
What is a Boarding Lodging Rooming House?

A Boarding Lodging Rooming House, Small (BLR House, Small) is:
A Boarding Lodging Rooming House where lodging is provided for not more than six (6) tenants.

A Boarding Lodging Rooming House, Large (BLR House, Large) is:
A Boarding Lodging Rooming House where lodging is provided for more than six (6) tenants.

Can I have tenants reside in my home without being considered as a BLR House?

Yes, provided the following minimum standards are present:

  1. A maximum of one kitchen;
  2. At least one bathroom and at least one other room;
  3. A private entrance from outside or from a common hallway or stairway inside;
  4. No more than four (4) tenants per household;
  5. No tenant-occupied room is equipped with an external locking mechanism that prevents access to the room by the other house occupants when the room is unoccupied; and
  6. One (1) parking space per dwelling unit, plus 1additional parking space for every two (2) tenants accommodated. Tandem parking will be permitted. The minimum size of each parking space is 2.7m x 5.5m.
Where in Barrie are Large and Small Boarding Lodging Rooming Houses permitted?

BLR House, Small, are permitted in all residential zones;
BLR House, Large are permitted in the RM2, RA1 and RA2 zones.

What are the development standards for a BLR House, Large?

Development of a BLR House, Large is permitted within the RM2, RA1 and RA2 zones. Please note that the BLR House, Large must comply with all other standards of the zone.

The following standards have been added to the Zoning By-law as part of the Boarding Lodging Rooming House amendments.

  • Each sleeping room or suite to be rented shall have a minimum of 7 sq. metres (75 sq. ft.) of habitable living space.
  • 1 parking space for every two (2) tenants accommodated shall be provided. Tandem parking will not be permitted. The minimum size for each parking space is 2.7 m x 5.5 m.
What are the development standards for a Boarding Lodging Rooming House, Small?

A BLR House, Small shall:

  1. Be permitted in all residential zones;
  2. Be compliant with all other standards of the zone in which the development is located;
  3. Have a maximum of one kitchen, at least one bathroom and at least one other room; 
  4. Each rentable sleeping room or suite shall have a minimum of 7sq. metres (75 sq. ft.) of habitable living space;
  5. The total aggregate floor area of all sleeping rooms shall not exceed 40% of the total habitable living space in the house;
  6. The occupants of the house must operate as a single housekeeping unit;
  7. No BLR house, Small shall be permitted to locate within 75m or another licensed BLR house in the R1, R2, R3, R4 and RM1 zones;
  8. 1 parking space per dwelling unit, plus 1 additional space for every 2 tenants. Tandem parking will be permitted. The minimum size for each parking space is 2.7 m x 5.5 m.
I operated a Boarding Lodging Rooming House before the zoning by-laws were changed. Am I required to meet all of the minimum requirements?

If you can prove that a Boarding Lodging Rooming House existed prior to December 10th, 2007 you are not required to meet the new minimum standards. The property in question would be considered a legal non conforming unit. You are required to be licensed by the By-law Services office.

What are the steps I need to take when applying to be approved to operate a BLR?

Both small and large BLR houses are required to be licensed.

Step 1: Obtain an application from the By-law Services Offices at 45 Cedar Pointe Drive, Barrie.

Step 2: Arrange for a zoning and property standards inspection and approval while at the By-law Services Office (Additional User Fees Applicable)

Step 3: Arrange for a Fire Department inspection and approval -- call 705-728-3199 or attend 155 Dunlop St. W. Barrie (Additional User Fee Applicable) payable at time of inspection. 

Step 4: Bring your completed application with all the required signatures and documentation back to the By-law Services at 45 Cedar Pointe Drive, Barrie.

Please Note: Your application must be accompanied by the following information about your building and property:

  1. Certificate of Inspection for Heating System (current within 5 years)
  2. Certificate of Inspection for Electrical System (current within 5 years) 
  3. Proof of Liability Insurance Coverage – minimum of $2 million dollars coverage
  4. Detailed Floor Plan: including dimensions of all rooms and living spaces
  5. Detailed Parking Plan: including all dimensions of parking spaces, set backs from property lines and structures; sight lines etc.
  6. 24-hour contact information of Manager/Superintendent or other persons responsible for premises.

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