Laneway Housing: What is it and Why Toronto Residents Want it

 

In the wake of recent developments regarding laneway housing, it appears that the city of Toronto may finally be ready embrace the phenomenon that has taken other major Canadian cities by storm. Laneway housing could very well be the shot in the arm that Toronto landlords and renters alike have been looking for.

 

What is laneway housing?

Laneway housing is known to many as simply “housing behind houses” – small houses or apartment units outwardly facing the city’s many laneways in place of where a garage would typically be. These laneway houses are often garages that have been converted into traditional housing, including necessities like heating, hydro, and access to water.
Up until recently, laneway housing has been a nightmare of red tape, with numerous city bylaws barring them. The city of Vancouver has put laneway housing to the test in recent years, seeing positive results that have helped to quell some of the city’s housing problems. The success of Vancouver’s laneway housing implementation in satisfying its housing demands may be one of the reasons the city of Toronto has been warming to the idea.

 

How does laneway housing benefit Toronto?

With more than 2,400 laneways spanning roughly 250 kilometers throughout the city of Toronto, there’s a great deal of potential to meet the incredible housing demand being seen by prospective property renters. All that valuable living space is currently being occupied by cluttered or largely unused garages. All of that wasted space could become homes to thousands of Toronto residents, and become incredibly valuable for prospective property owners.

 

Laneway housing creates a “hidden” density within the city, adding much-needed properties to meet renter demand, and helping to alleviate the still red-hot Toronto market. Many of the city’s laneways are found in highly desirable downtown neighbourhoods, potentially creating a new market of homes for renters looking to live closer to their workplaces, shopping destinations, and their favorite hotspots.

 

How does laneway housing benefit property owners?

The first and most important point when considering the option of exploring laneway housing as a property owner is the fact that the potential for rental returns far outweigh the construction expenses. Many laneway homes are converted garages or detached units with small additions built onto them. While these initial expenses may be cause for concern, Toronto’s consistently hot market and housing shortage means that finding renters willing to pay top dollar is easier than ever before.

 

By incurring the expenses of building a laneway house, property owners with laneway-facing units have the potential to more than double their monthly rental income. These units can be rented out as guesthouses for tourists, apartments for couples and singles, or as student housing for Toronto’s many post-secondary institutions – the potential is nearly limitless. Not only is laneway housing a great way to boost the amount of properties you own and earn rental income from, but it also adds much needed affordable housing options in a high demand city.

 

Toronto’s renewed interest in laneway housing looks to be a beneficial arrangement for everybody – city officials, property owners, renters, and tourists. By creating a hidden density within the city and offering affordable housing in high demand areas, there’s no doubt that laneway housing could be revolutionary for the city’s real estate market. With building costs being quickly repaid by monthly rent payments, there are few reasons for laneway-facing property owners not to explore the option and get in early.

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