Lodging house regulations

The City of Guelph has by-laws in effect which provide for the initial creation and the property maintenance of lodging houses throughout the city. These by-law regulations are found in Zoning By-law (1995)-14864 and Property Standards By-law (2000)-16454. Aside from municipal by-laws, the applicable sections of the Ontario Fire Code and the Ontario Building Code are applied to lodging houses.

Through the creation and strict enforcement of these by-laws and Provincial legislation, the City of Guelph is providing consistent standards for a safe form of affordable accommodation.

What is a “Lodging House”?

The City of Guelph Zoning By-law No. (1995)-14864 defines Lodging Houses as:

  • Lodging House Type 1 means any place including but not limited to a dwelling unit used to provide Lodging Units for hire or gain directly or indirectly to persons and containing 5 or more Lodging Units.
  • Lodging House Type 2 means a townhouse development or apartment building where one or more dwelling units are used to provide Lodging Units for hire or gain directly or indirectly to persons and containing 5 or more Lodging Units. (Note: this Type 2 use is subject to a Zoning Amendment).
  • Lodging Unit means a room in a Lodging House Type 1 or Type 2 used to providing living accommodation for the occupant but does not have the exclusive use of both a kitchen and a bathroom.

A lodging house shall not include a Group Home, Hotel, Medical Treatment Facility, Nursing Home, Tourist Home, or Home for the Aged, as defined by the City of Guelph Zoning By-law (1995)-14864, as amended from time to time, or any successors thereto (“the Zoning-Bylaw).

The leasing arrangements (or lack of a lease) or number of names that appear on the lease has no bearing on whether a property is a lodging house. It is the number of lodging units in the building that ultimately determines the use.

Where may lodging houses be located?

Lodging houses may be located in the R.1 residential and CBD Commercial zones.

Why certify lodging houses?

To recognize that lodging units are a necessary form of accommodation in Guelph and are regulated as a different use from single detached dwellings. By certifying lodging houses, the city is providing safer and more comfortable lodging accommodations, while preserving the character of the residential neighbourhoods where they are located.

Summary of Zoning Regulations

  1. Separation distance – the property must be a minimum of 100m (328 feet) away from another certified lodging house or licensed group home. As the list of approved lodging houses and group homes is continually being amended, please contact Guelph Zoning Services at 519-837-5615 extension 2388 to find out whether a property is within the separation distance of any other lodging houses or group homes.
  2. Building type A lodging house may occupy the whole of:
    • a single detached dwelling unit. A building containing a lodging house Type 1 cannot contain an accessory apartment
    • a mixed residential/commercial building in the central business district
    • a new purpose built lodging house
  3. Maximum occupancy – 12 lodgers
  4. Off-street parking – 1 parking space per building plus 1 parking space for every 3 lodgers must be provided. Certain properties in the CBD-1 zone may be exempt.

Lodging house use certification

Lodging House Certification Form

Ontario Building Code Lodging House Requirements

The Ontario Building Code, which is administered by the City of Guelph, defines a lodging house as follows:

Boarding, lodging or rooming house means a building,

  1. that has a building height not exceeding three storeys and a building area not exceeding 600m²,
  2. in which lodging is provided for more than four persons in return for remuneration or for the provision of services or for both, and
  3. in which the lodging rooms do not have both bathrooms and kitchen facilities for the exclusive use of individual occupants

The Ontario Building Code also defines a dwelling unit as follows:

  • Dwelling unit means a suite operated as a housekeeping unit, used or intended to be used by one or more persons and usually containing cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities.

In order to distinguish between a dwelling unit and a lodging house, recent case law has identified some of the key characteristics of a dwelling unit to try and help define what a “single housekeeping unit” is. These dwelling unit characteristics include the following:

  • All of the tenants in a house knowing each other well in advance of signing their lease
  • All of the tenants deciding together who gets which room with no influence from the owner or their representative
  • No keyed locks on any of the bedroom doors
  • The tenants enter into a group lease
  • The tenants pay the rent as a group
  • The tenants pay all of the utilities in their name separate from the rent
  • That neither the owner nor any of their relatives live in the house (although this may help to reduce the number of lodgers to four or less, if they are on the ownership)
  • The tenants have access to the entire house
  • The tenants provide all of the furniture for the entire house
  • The tenants are responsible for the cleaning of the house
  • That there have not been any renovations to increase the number bedrooms in the house

As a property begins to stray from this dwelling unit scenario Building Services’ will take an overall look at all of these variables together. Not all of these variables need to be untrue in order for the property to be deemed as a lodging house. Some may be true and some not true and some we may factor in differently than others and give more weight to determine whether or not it is a lodging house for Ontario Building Code purposes.

If you are looking to renovate or change the use of an existing dwelling unit into a lodging house or are looking to construct a new lodging house or if you have received notification from us that your property has been deemed a lodging house for Ontario Building Code purposes and a change of use permit is required please see below and also refer to our Residential Building Permits and Inspections page.

An important clarification is that a homeowner is not permitted to prepare the permit drawings for a lodging house unless they are qualified with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in the “Small Buildings” category. Otherwise, a registered designer in the “Small Buildings” category (or an Architect or Engineer) is required to prepare the permit drawings for a lodging house.

When upgrading to or constructing a lodging house the Ontario Building Code typically requires items such as the following:

  • Fire rated floors and roofs
  • Fire separated bedrooms, including fire rated doors and self closers
  • Fire rated corridors (hallways), including fire rated doors and self closers
  • Fire rated construction, including fire rated doors and self closers, around the stairs on each storey to separate them as segregated, protected exit stairs leading directly to the exterior and protecting exterior stairs from exterior windows or other openings
  • Fire separated ancillary rooms (storage rooms, washrooms, laundry rooms, service rooms), including fire rated doors and self closers
  • Two required exits from each floor level (depending on the number of lodgers or if there is sleeping accommodation in the basement) *Please note that an egress window is not deemed as an exit.
  • Interconnected, hardwired smoke alarms with battery back-up and visual signals throughout the lodging house, including in each bedroom
  • CO alarms and fire extinguishers
  • Emergency lights and exit signs
  • A fire alarm system (depending on the number of lodgers)
  • Barrier free (including wheelchair) accessibility (depending on the number of lodgers)

Please consult with your designer as to how each of these items and any other requirements apply to your specific lodging house.

Depending on the zoning requirements, number of lodgers, and size and layout of the house there may be an opportunity to install an accessory apartment and upgrade as a two unit house instead of complying and upgrading as a lodging house. Please refer to the Accessory Apartment Regulations. Homeowners are permitted to prepare the drawings for an accessory apartment provided they are detailed, accurate drawings to scale illustrating and noting all of the required information.