Simcoe County Secondary Suites Program – Are You Eligible to Apply?

The Secondary Suites Program’s objective is to increase the number of affordable rental units in Simcoe County by assisting owners to create secondary and/or garden suites. The program is being delivered with funding from the County of Simcoe and Federal/Provincial governments and provides financial assistance in the form of a forgivable loan of up to a maximum of $25,000, to create a secondary or garden suite.
Simcoe County is providing $750,000 in additional funding to grow and expand the program. These County funds will complement $300,000 already dedicated through federal and provincial funds for creation of secondary and/or garden suites this year, bringing the total available funding to more than $1 million for 2016.
Secondary and garden suites support the overall strategy to create 2,685 new affordable housing units in Simcoe County by 2024 – this includes secondary and garden suites, rent-supplements, new construction, and home ownership downpayment assistance.

secondary-suiteSecondary Suites

A Secondary Suite is a self-contained dwelling unit located within a single detached dwelling, secondary to the principal residence. By definition, a Secondary Suite has independent cooking, sleeping, and bathing facilities, as well as direct access to outside. Creation of an affordable rental unit in an existing property must comply with local municipal building approval and Ontario Building Code requirements. Rents must remain affordable* for a period of 15 years.

garage_suiteGarden Suites

Garden suites are one-unit detached residential structures containing bathroom and kitchen facilities that may or may not be self-contained, depending on local municipal rules. Garden suites are located on the homeowner’s property and can only be rented out to a senior or person with a disability The Garden Sutie must comply with local municipal building approval and Ontario Building Code requirements and constructed on the applicant’s property.
Rents must remain affordable* for a period of 15 years
*Based on Average Market Rent as determined by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and adjusted from time to time

Rental Unit Requirements

Units must be modest in terms of floor space and amenities. The use of energy-saving products or systems are strongly encouraged. Rents must be at or below the Average Market Rent as established by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for a period of 15 years. Ingoing occupant(s) of the rental until must have a maximum household income below an amount as established by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Annual reporting of rental amounts is required.

Accessibility Modifications

Grants up to $5,000 for permanent modifications to the secondary/garden suite to improve accessibility. Examples include, but are not limited to ramps, chair and bath lifts, height adjustments to countertops, cues for doorbells/fire alarms and bathroom modifications.
*Accessibility modification that exceed $5.000 will be considered a forgivable loan up to a combined total of $25,000

Other Related Costs

‘Soft’ costs deemed reasonable by the County of Simcoe and that are agreed to by the Province of Ontario, may be eligible expenses. Examples include, but are not limited to; labour and applicable taxes, certificates, permits, legal fees up to a maximum of $1,000 and inspection fees.
*Soft costs incurred prior to final funding approval are not eligible for reimbursement

Ineligible Projects

Examples of projects that are not eligible include, but are not limited to: any modifications performed prior to loan/grant approval, construction projects that do not have local municipal building approval, cosmetic renovations and repairs (for example: driveway paving, appliances, bathroom makeovers or replacing kitchen cabinets and countertops), landscaping, routine maintenance, solar panels, supportive care such as nursing care and special equipment required for therapeutic purposes, whether permanently fixed or not and modifications to any commercial or non-residential component of properties.

Loan Forgiveness

To earn loan forgiveness, you must maintain continued ownership of the property and adhere to all terms and conditions of the Loan Agreement. Loans for the creation of secondary/garden suites are forgiven at an equal rate over a 15 year period.


The awarding of funding dollars will be determined by the cost of work (including ‘soft’ costs) approved by the County. There is a maximum of $25,000 per property. Applicants may access funding for the creation of up to six units, subject to prior approval. Accessibility modifications up to a maximum of $5,000 are in the form of a grant • Program funding is secured on title.

Program Defaults

In the case of any of the following situations, you will be considered to be in default and any outstanding loan amount must be repaid: transfer, lease or selling of the home, information was misrepresented to the County of Simcoe at any given time during the process, the loan is used for a purpose other than the repairs outlined in the scope of work, rents for secondary/garden suites do not meet Program Guidelines, property taxes and/or mortgage payments are in default, property is no longer insured to its full replacement value.
Since applicants approved for a forgivable loan are required to enter into a Loan Agreement, the County recommends obtaining independent legal advice to review and explain the terms and conditions of the Program requirements. The County will allow a maximum of $1,000 as an eligible expense for loans secured through a mortgage. Additional legal fees above this amount are at the expense of the applicant.

Are You Eligible to Apply?

lf you are interested in participating in the Program to create a secondary or garden suite, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Own a property in the County of Simcoe.
  • Creation of secondary or garden suite must comply with all municipal/building regulations.
  • Property taxes and mortgage payments up-to-date.
  • Insurance coverage in place for the full market value of the home.
  • You must be a Canadian Citizen, Landed lmmigrant, or have Refugee Claimant Status and have no deportation order under the lmmigration Act (Canada) against any member of the household or no departure order or exclusion order under the lmmigration Act (Canada) has become effective with respect to any member of the household.
  • Not be in the process of applying for bankruptcy or have an active bankruptcy filed.
  • Total of all mortgages and any other encumbrances registered on title, plus the Program funding, cannot exceed the market value of the home.

Funding is limited and will be available on a first-come first-served basis.
If you are eligible to apply for the Program, you can print an application from our website at simcoe.ca/ontariorenovates or contact the County of Simcoe Social Housing Department for a copy. For more information or to apply to the Secondary Suite program, visit www.simcoe.ca/ontariorenovates.

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