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Accessory Dwelling Units: Making money from your home

Thanks to recently approved by-laws in Burlington, you can now create additional income while helping one of the thousands of individuals or families on the Halton Region Housing waiting list, to have a place they can call home.

Many of the applicants on this waiting list, qualify for rent subsidies and/or other government supports, which ensures their rent will be paid in full and on time.


In addition, by working with a housing agency (Support & Housing-Halton, Summit Housing, Halton Multicultural Council and others) in conjunction with Halton Region itself, tenants are pre-screened and motivated to be respectful of the housing you provide. Your tenants will thank you for providing them with a dignified home and will often be willing to help with household and property maintenance such as shoveling, gardening, lawn care and more! Here’s how you can create a legal conforming accessory dwelling unit (ADU) inside, or attached to, your existing home: An ADU can be a basement apartment, main floor apartment or addition to your existing home. By creating an ADU, you will potentially increase the value of your property and also generate a 20% (or higher) annual return on your renovation investment!* In today’s world of volatile stock markets, low returns on GIC’s and other ‘secure’ investments, consider how this option can make your home work for you, while serving the needs of affordable housing throughout Halton Region! Here is a list to get you started in the right direction:

  • Is my home one of the 25,000 in Burlington already zoned for an ADU? Call the City of Burlington Planning Department at 905-335-7642. There is no charge for this search. In fact, City staff will welcome your interest in creating these safe and secure apartments.

  • Is my home suitable for an ADU? Consider the need for a separate entrance, parking availability, the potential for shared or separate laundry facilities.

  • Is my home close to schools, transit and shopping? This is important as tenants often do not have their own transportation and need to walk or take transit to work, study or shop for groceries.

  • Does my home qualify for a new program just announced by Union Gas and Burlington Hydro? These companies have just introduced the “FREE Energy Efficiency Upgrade Program” to qualified customers living in private homes, or low-rise rental units with low levels of insulation. If your household income and home qualifies, you may receive upgrades to your attic insulation, wall or basement insulation, at no cost to you. See the information at or call their authorized contractor, Ecofitt at 1-877-326-3488 (Press option 2)

  • As a senior 65 years or older in Ontario, you could qualify for a tax credit to help with the cost of making your home safer and more accessible. If you qualify, you can claim up to $10,000 worth of eligible home improvements on your tax return. The amount of money you get back for these expenses is calculated as 15 per cent of the eligible expenses you claim. For example, if you spend and then claim these $10,000 worth of eligible expenses, you could get $1,500 back. For family members living with a senior relative in their home, they could qualify for a total tax credit of up to $1,500 every year, regardless of income. (If you’re considering this now, save your receipts!)For more information about the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit, call 1-866-668-8297, or visit Silver and Gold online for a link to the program brochure.

  • There are Halton Region non-profit agencies you can work with proactively, helping individuals and families they serve, to find affordable housing while helping them secure a better future. By doing so, the agency plays an active role in screening and supporting your tenant(s).

Being a landlord for over thirty years, I have enjoyed friendships with tenants that last a lifetime. I highly recommend you explore doing the same. The benefits to you and to your new tenant(s) will be priceless!

An example in action:

Just off Brant Street in Burlington, north of the QEW, a small bungalow has installed a legal conforming basement apartment. Approved by Halton Region, the Electrical Safety Authority and the City of Burlington’s building department, the two bedroom unit now accommodates a family, new to Halton Region. The entire renovation, including permits, materials, labour and inspections was an investment of approximately $30,000. The renovation took two months to build. The apartment meets and exceeds Building Code and fire regulations as well as Halton Region’s expectations for safe, secure, dignified housing.

Financing the $30,000 project, at 3.5%, amortized over 25 years, will require monthly payments of $150. To that you can add some additional insurance and utility costs, and the total monthly expenses will be approximately $400 - $500. Based on a conservative subsidized rental rate of $1,000 for a two-bedroom home, the net cash flow for this two-bedroom unit will be $500 - 600 per month.

In addition, there are other tax advantages such as writing off a portion of your utility and interest payments. Your tax advisor can expand upon these and other savings. As you can see, the positive cash flow in this real example is double the monthly expenses and net out at a 20% annual return ($6,000) on the initial investment of $30,000 for the homeowner! Beyond the financial benefits and property maintenance supports outlined above, the tenant(s) will provide companionship and vigilance, particularly for senior homeowners who are wanting to live in their homes longer. These new residents in the neighbourhood will also have children filling our schools, riders on our buses, diners filling our restaurants and consumers supporting local retailers and service industries. Can your home work harder for you? Yes it can. You just need to take the first step and explore your options. * Figures quoted throughout this article will vary from homeowner to homeowner. Please consult your professional financial advisors to determine your opportunity. If you are an individual in Halton Region that is in need of affordable housing, or need subsidy housing assistance – also called rent-geared-to-income (RGI), you may contact HATCH (Halton Access to Community Housing) by dialing 311, or visiting the Halton Region website: and clicking on the “Living in Halton / Housing” menu. In Hamilton, visit the Housing Help Centre located on 119 Main Street East (905-526-8100) or CityHousing Hamilton, 181 Main Street West (905-523-8496). Note to reader: If you do not live in Burlington, call your Town or City Hall and speak with the by-law department to see if they are offering the same opportunity to homeowners as described above. It may be the most profitable call you will ever make. In many cases, this concept will allow seniors to remain in their homes longer because of financial and maintenance supports provided by great tenants. - - - -

Garth Brown is an affordable housing advocate in Halton Region. To explore these possibilities and find out more, Garth may be reached directly at 416-459-2730 or by e-mail:

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