Basement Apartments - Town of Ajax

Accessory Apartments


An accessory apartment (a.k.a. in-law suite, basement apartment, granny flat or nanny suite) is defined as a separate dwelling unit that is located within the structure of a principal dwelling unit and which is secondary to the principal dwelling. An accessory apartment comprises of cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities.

If you own an existing two-unit dwelling or are considering constructing a new accessory apartment there are specific zoning, building, and fire code requirements that must be followed. It is the homeowner's responsibility to ensure the safety of all residents and obtain the required permits.

Only one accessory apartment is permitted in a dwelling unit. All accessory apartments, new and existing, require a building permit.

Accessory apartments that do not meet the requirements of the Ontario Fire Code (OFC) pose a risk to everyone in the dwelling. These dwellings can be unsafe as they pose risks from fires, unsafe utility/building renovations, improper exits, lack of fire separations, missing smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide detectors.

Ajax Fire & Emergency Services, along with Building Approvals, wants to ensure the safety of all residents through enforcement of the Ontario Fire Code (OFC) and the Ontario Building Code (OBC), as applicable, by ensuring the accessory apartment complies with all related requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have a family member living in the basement, is this still considered an accessory apartment?
The relationship of the tenant to the homeowner has no relevance, if the space is configured as an accessory apartment (space comprises of cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities) then it is considered to be an accessory apartment.

How do I obtain a building permit for my accessory apartment (new or existing)?
Code requirements differ according to the age of the accessory apartment and dwelling unit, the three variations of an accessory apartment are:

What can I do to ensure my existing accessory apartment is in compliance with the OFC?
Contact Ajax Fire Prevention & Public Safety Division at 905-683-4481 to arrange a fire safety inspection. Once scheduled, a Fire Prevention Inspector will visit the home and perform a fire safety inspection of the accessory apartment to ensure that the unit is made safe. Upon completion of the inspection the property owner will be notified of any items currently not meeting the requirements of the code. The owner is responsible for carrying out the provisions of the OFC, however before any work is started a building permit must be issued through Building Approvals.

What are the requirements for an accessory apartment reviewed under the OFC?
An accessory apartment in existence prior to July 14, 1994 is reviewed under Section 9.8 of the OFC. Typically a Fire Prevention Inspector will look for the following in the dwelling:

  • Fire separations between dwelling units
  • Exits
  • Smoke alarms
  • Hydro inspection

What are the penalties of an illegal accessory apartment?
Failure to comply with the OFC requirements or the Inspectors orders may result in fines of up to $50,000 and/or not more than one year in prison for each violation of the code.

It is imperative to contact the Ajax Fire Prevention & Safety Division to arrange an inspection to ensure the residents are safe in your home. For more information on accessory apartments within the Town of Ajax, please contact theAjax Fire Prevention & Safety Division at 905-683-4481.