Ontario Tiny House Legalization…

Update: Monday May 16, 2016

I am sorry to say that the tip that came to me about the Municipality of Highlands East was not correct.  I don’t think that the tipper meant any malice but they were simply misinformed and I passed on this misinformation to you.  I am very sorry about this.

I know it must have been a sad disappointment for at least one of the people who read it, because Dan wrote to the the Municipality of Highlands East and here is the note that he got back.

“Our zoning by-law has not changed and the minimum size of a dwelling is 65 square meters or 700 square feet.”

I am sorry Dan and others who hoped to make this community their home.




There are two bits of news that I find promising when it comes to the legality of tiny houses in Ontario.

1. Garden Suites

2. UPDATE: the Municipality of Highlands East has lowered its footprint size to 500 feet.  Which is a perfectly reasonable house size and right sized for a lot of people.  (News of this came to me on November 19, 2015)  One tiny step forward!


Tiny house hopeful Anthony shared a bunch of research that he has been doing in his area.  He discovered that Garden Suites are allowed to be built in the area outlined in black in the below map of Ontario.

Each of these areas has rules unique to its own area.  But essentially what holds true to all of them is that if you can get someone to agree to allow you on their land, if you hook up your services to the main house and if you pay a nice hefty fee, you can park a tiny house in these areas. Yes I said PARK!  These buildings must be supplementary and they must be mobile.

With this said, please before you jump check the specific area, there are a lot of restrictions and you will need to know these.  You can’t fill too much of the green space in a lot for example and wouldn’t it be a pity to build a house 1 square foot too big after paying for all the hookups.

Also doing this will NOT be cheap.  These houses MUST be hooked in on the existing infrastructure.  No off grid toilets, there must be running water and electricity.  In other words, if you are considering building you have to add all of these infrastructural costs to your build. Further to this, you better have a LONG term lease with the land owner, even if this is someone you trust.  Once you spend the money for hooking your house to sewage, water and electricity you want to be sure that a fight over a cup of sugar won’t find you and your house without a place to live.

I want to note that while I am excited about the potential of this, there is a lot of leg work and money to make this happen.

If you decide to go ahead with doing this, please do so with your building inspector as well as a lawyer to draw up a lease agreement.  Remember I know something about tiny houses, but I  am not willing to take any responsibility if you fail to do your own homework for your own house.  I can’t possibly know all the individual codes for every township.


Garden Suites



The second point, and this is REALLY great news, just last night I heard from a counsellor from a very nice area in Ontario.  This person said that they are considering removing the minimum house size in the area that they are representing.   I sent back SO much information that they will have to spend quite some time reading the information I sent.  This said, it is totally worth my time to donate my time to this cause, because I want to ensure that tiny and small sustainable homes are available to anyone who wants to live this lifestyle.

When I know more, I will certainly share more.

We are getting closer every single day folks!

Categories: Building code, Community, Environmentalism, Ontario, Rules, Sustainable living, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario, View | Tags: , , , , , | 38 Comments

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38 thoughts on “Ontario Tiny House Legalization…

  1. Cynthia Eyre

    As far as I know, Greater Sudbury area allows garden suites now to help create affordable housing and allow for aging in place but there are restrictions so best to check. I.e. it can be for an elder relative of a certain age for a certain period or, it can be for renting out at an affordable rate. I don’t think a property owner can simply build (or allow a build) as a second dwelling for someone to use for free (except an aging relative.

  2. Ryan

    I have a question that I’ve yet to see an answer for. If the minimum dwelling unit changes for the better if you already have a tiny well not so tiny 13’5×40 tiny home on a trailer and it is built to code does anyone know if I would be aloud to take it off the trailer and put it on a foundation/basement?

    • Hi Ryan, There are two questions here… First can it be taken off the trailer… and this depends on how your house is built (can it structurally handle being removed from the trailer) Second ones is: can you put it on a foundation or basement… and also the municipality that you plan on living in. Some of the areas in Ontario are asking for similar (laneway) houses (that could eventually be picked up and moved but not on wheels). But these questions I cannot answer not just because I don’t know how structurally sound your house is.. but also because I don’t know if it meets code and also because every municipality is unique and because of this, you really have to check with them.
      I am sorry I cannot be more helpful!

      • Ryan

        No worries Laura and I haven’t built it yet but I thought it would be a good idea to have it inspected as a normal house would be so that if laws do change I already have it to code. As for the stability of the house I was thinking about temporary I beams running the length and width of it so that it will make it easy and safe for moving it off the trailer. Anyway thank you very much for your quick response.

      • Ryan, you might want to look into container houses… These containers are designed to be (somewhat easily) moved and can be adapted into wonderful homes! The building itself is a little more difficult of course, because you have to have weld out holes for the windows and doors, but the versatility might make it worth the effort.

      • Ryan

        Oh and I should have mentioned the I’m interested in kawartha lakes and or Peterborough area.

  3. Pingback: Where can I build a tiny house in Ontario? | Tiny House Ontario


    My dream is to retire early and I
    want to owe a tiny home to live in. Does anyone know if it’s legal in or around the Oshawa area.

    • Hi Paulette, it is not illegal to live in a tiny house anywhere as far as I know. But it may well be against the Building Code. As far as I know you cannot live anywhere in Ontario in a tiny house on wheels legally except in a park that accepts RV’s and mobile homes.

      But if you want one on a foundation then please check with the building department in the city before you buy land. Ottawa has JUST passed a carriage house law, so you could put one in the yard of a friend, or in your own yard and then rent out the main house if you lived there.
      Oshawa… I am not sure… but there is legislation to force cities to allow this… so it is coming soon everywhere, I am sure.
      Best of luck to you
      Laura AKA tiny house ontario
      PS: Don’t spend any money until you have fully researched!

  5. Colette Cummings

    Please include me in your post. My ideal tiny home is about 6 to 700 Sq ft. Looking to spend my retirement in one since living in Mississauga will be too expensive in the future. I want my pension $ to go further.


    Click to access DOC.pdf


  7. Anonymous

    What about Windsor ontario?

  8. Dan Malloy

    Here is the response I got today from the Municipality of Highlands East (County of Haliburton) so be careful before you get your hopes up.

    I am hoping to get the law changed in my Municipality to allow smaller homes.

    Our zoning by-law has not changed and the minimum size of a dwelling is 65 square metres or 700 square feet. This is the square footage size that is required in all zones.

    • Hi Dan, I am very sorry to hear this! The person who gave me the tip seemed to be so clear. I will edit the post to reflect this. I am so sorry!

      • Dan Malloy

        No worries…just had a short glimmer of hope. 🙂 On another note I am working on something to present to my municipality to try to get them to drop this silly restriction. Hint: Minimum building size may not comply with the Ontario Human Rights Act. I’m working on it…I’ll keep you posted.

      • AWESOME! Please do keep me posted!

  9. Dan Malloy

    Hello All:

    I’m planning to start asking the Municality of Dysart (Haliburton) to remove the minimum square footage from their official plan. What difference does it make what size a house is as long as it is built safely to code? I’m not a rich person and I want a small cabin on MY own property for my kids to enjoy. Thanks. Dan Malloy Please feel free to contact me directly or post a comment here.

    • Hi Dan! I have removed your email address, because I don’t want you to get a million and one spam bot responses. I would be really happy if you would keep us up on the process that you are going through. Hopefully they are open to your proposal. ❤ L

      • Dan Malloy

        Oh thanks Laura but why? Is something up with email?

        I quite enjoy the posts…and yes I will keep you posted as to what I am up to. I always park between the lines and conform to societies rules but I don’t get why I am told I can’t build a house under a certain square footage that fits my budget (which is basically zero 🙂 ).

        Thanks Laura.

    • Hello Dan,
      I agree with you 100%. We have the same 700sq ft restriction in Midland ON. Can I get access to the proposal you are planning on presenting? Thanks.

  10. ruthg

    any luck in cornwall ont

  11. Anonymous

    Hi all!l live in Toronto area, to have a tiny is my dream! and so much healthier for the environment and people should be givin the option and choice in how they want and choose how to live!! lm happy to see this movement is growing Apts, Condo’s are just getting to expensive in this city and small!!! so why not invest in a tiny home l think there sey lol!!! and affordable, l realize there not for everyone!! but if you look on the side of not being crammed into the cookie cutter boring typical life style but a more creative way of living, more trees and space more green, creating beauty!!!! and hey if you can end up with more money in your pockets in the end all the better!!!!

  12. Yazmin

    Thank you for this information. I am passionate about clean water and finding ways to produce less black water. I feel that composting toilets need to be the way of the future. However it is obvious that lawmakers still have no understanding of the potential of composting toilets for improvements in water quality given that there is still a requirement for all dwellings to hook up to sewage infrastructure.

    However, there is a law in Ontario called the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), overseen by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) where I work, which gives residents greater access to environmental decision-making. One of the tools in the EBR is an Application for Review with which it is possible to ask for a review of a current law or to request a new one. It is quite a powerful tool and one that could be used in many ways.

    One of the options that potentially exists for tiny-housers would be to file an Application for Review asking the government for a Policy or Regulation on composting toilets. This could be a very important undertaking for a variety of reasons including the fact that currently the Province does not have adequate ways to deal with the ‘septage’ pumped out of septic tanks and which essentially in the case of these garden suites, people are being asked to use.

    If someone else was passionate about this issue and of removing barriers to tiny living, accessing the information about Rights under the EBR on the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s website and perhaps reading what the ECO has said about septage in the past.

    • Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this information with me. I have invited my community to look at this and you can expect action on this soon!
      Kind regards and gratitude,

  13. Stephen

    I find this topic to be quite interesting! Lots of thoughtful comments. Maybe, I don’t have to go to Mexico to make my pension do more for me!!!

  14. Chris

    Hello all.
    I’m new to this site so sorry if this question has come up (I’m almost positive that it would have).

    I work in Kingston and have been looking and inquiring in all the surrounding townships and counties to see if tiny houses are allowed but have had no positive responses.

    I’m just wondering…
    What about if I were to purchase a REALLY cheap house (like a fixer-upper, sold as-is), and then claimed that house as my residence but then just built a tiny house in the yard and lived in that (while still claiming that I’m living in the fixer-upper house)?

    Has anyone done this exact thing?

    I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this idea.


  15. Lulu

    I had check with Stouffville and the planning department told me, there is no size restriction, i was looking to buy a land around musselman lake and build something small, and i got their reply with no restriction, also i can hoop up the city service as well. Land is not cheap in Stouffville, hopefully i can find a cheap tiny house builder, any recommendation?

    • Jason

      Wow. This is amazing news. Do you think it was just an off-the-top of their head answer by a newbie? Thanks for this info. I’ll have to look into this.

  16. Hello Laura!
    I’ve just found your blog and glad I did!
    Thank you for posting about this topic.

    My partner and I are currently driving back to Ontario after 7 months on living on the road in our 6′ x 9′ trailer, and plan to start building our own Tiny House when we are back in late June, so soon!
    So much planning!

    Kat 🙂

  17. It is very encouraging to hear that a municipality is considering reducing or removing the minimum building size restriction from its zoning by-laws. I would be keen to learn more as this rolls out. Please keep us all informed.

    WRT to garden suites (aka granny flats), one minor caution. It might be different in the municipalities in which Anthony is researching, though ordinarily such buildings are to be “portable”/(re)movable/relocatable, but not mobile per se. The ordinarily semantical difference is that “mobile” is construed to mean a motorized or unmotorized vehicle, such as a (camper) trailer and/or so called “trailer homes” or “mobile homes”. In most instances, anything with wheels is considered a vehicle and not a permanent or semi-permanent structure and when defined as such will not be permitted (without special zoning – see Official Plan ;-).

    On the other hand, one can still have a relocatable structure without it needing to have wheels – think school portables for a common example – and this, if it met all the other qualifications as you point out will still need to be met, could serve as a garden suite.

    I only point this out since many tiny home hopefuls look at some of the examples available on line and in print and see elaborately decked out trailers. Such options are much less likely to meet acceptance in this part of Ontario than, perhaps ironically, a more permanent version might be.

  18. Hi Laura. I’m planning for a tiny house build in the near future. Would you be able to share which township this was? Perhaps via email?

  19. Karen

    You could look into Unorganized Townships too—which only have to follow building codes for safety and septic but no building permits are required. There are many areas in N.Ont that are unorganized township. Taxes are very cheap too.

    • Hi Karen, this is not quite true. The unorganized townships follow the Canadian Building code. This is because they don’t have a municipal governments who have amended the Federal rules.
      You are certainly correct that taxes are cheap up there! This is because there are very few or no services.

      • Karen

        I don’t know but I’d not think that a size would be an issue in Unorganized as there is no one to govern it. Safety codes, yes but otherwise pretty much anything goes here. For those who aren’t familiar with unorganized,there are very few rules but we do get our roads plowed regularly in winter. We take our garbage to the dump ourselves but thats not a problem. Kids are picked up by school bus too. We don’t buy dog tags and there are no limits of 2 or 3 dogs per household. Just aren’t too many laws.

      • Yes, you are right about this Karen… there are NO size restrictions in the National building code. This is because small and tiny houses are no less safe then are large houses.
        Good that you get your roads ploughed and bus services! I am of the understanding that there are a lot of the unorganized townships that do not have roads at all, so I guess getting in and out of these areas takes some thought and planning.

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