Two-Unit House Registration (Barrie Second Suites)

Since January 1, 2004 the City of Barrie requires every two-unit house within the city to be registered. As part of the registration process, the City will confirm that the two-unit house is legal under the City’s Zoning By-law, and that the house complies with several health and safety regulations.

UPDATED May 25 2015:

Barrie Second Suites

On May 25, 2015, Council approved a policy to expand permission of second suites, or adding apartments, to existing homes. The changes to the Zoning By-law are anticipated to come into effect on Tuesday June 23, 2015. Any second suite that was created after February 18, 2015, will be subject to the bylaw amendments.

Second Suites are self-contained units with a kitchen and bathroom within homes, and must be registered with the City. The creation of a second suite involves the conversion of a single dwelling unit into a two-unit house. Living in a secondary suite is an attractive and affordable housing option for many residents.

This section will provide general information to help owners of two-unit houses understand what will be required of them.

What is a Two-Unit House?

A two-unit house is a building that contains two residential dwelling units. Commonly, a two-unit house starts as a single dwelling unit (detached, semidetached or townhouse) with a second dwelling unit created within the house later on. The second unit is sometimes referred to as a second suite, an in-law suite or a basement apartment. Duplexes & semi-detached units located on the same property are also considered as two-unit houses.

Why Do Two-Unit Houses Need to be Registered?

There are probably a couple thousand two-unit houses in the city. Concerned that many of these units may be illegal and/or unsafe for the occupants, the City of Barrie has adopted a by-law to require every two-unit house to be registered. Through the registration process the house will be inspected to confirm compliance with the Zoning By-law, the Building Code, the Fire Code and the Property Standards By-law.

Owning an unregistered two-unit house is a contravention of the Registration By-law.

IMPORTANT NOTEThere are some areas in Barrie that will not permit second suites. Please do not look at a bungalow or a property that has a separate basement entrance or walk-out and assume it can be done. In particular, Second Suites will not be permitted in the BA01 Area- Georgian College. If you are not using a local REALTOR® OR SOMEONE WHO IS NOT AN EXPERT IN THE AREAS, suggest diligence is done and reconsider someone who is (not intended to solicit anyone under agency contract whether written or implied. This is informational purposes only with the intent of advising what’s in best interest and what we witness happening time and time again)

Why not Georgian College area? The City of Barrie has an Incentive program to help facilitate purpose built student housing in the Georgian College area specifically to mitigate the impact of students in established neighbourhoods and to ensure that dedicated student housing is provided which is safe, clean and properly administered by a property management specialist. Allowing second suites would undermine these efforts and exacerbate the existing issues in the area.


Having a propery “Grandfathered” is possible providing meets certain criteria. Grandfathering is a term used to allow for uses to exist without meeting all or some of the bylaw standards and provisions.

To find out if your property is grandfathered, legal proof will have to be provided to Planning Services indicating the date the subject property contained a second dwelling unit (Second Suite).

Do you have an illegal second suite not registered? The City of Barrie will/can take action! Here’s what they say:

Generally second suites are enforced upon receipt of a complaint however pending the availability of staff resources, staff will also review rental advertisements both online and in printed media format.

Source: City of Barrie

Second Suites - Multi Family Downloads & Resources