Budget 2024: Ottawa wants to help homeowners create rental suites

Seniors aging at home could be beneficiaries of secondary suite loan proposal

Budget 2024: Ottawa wants to help homeowners create rental suites
Steve Randall

It’s federal budget day (April 16) and Ottawa is proposing a scheme to help fund conversion of homeowners’ extra space into rental units that could provide new income for millions of Canadians, such as retirees who want to age at home.

The creation of a Secondary Suite Loan Program would provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to help turn garages, unused basements, and other suitable space into laneway homes. These could be used for tenants or as additional space for family.

The scheme would also allow homeowners to build new units to provide, for example, new accommodation for seniors or a family member with a disability. It builds on the Multigeneration Home Renovation Tax Credit, which launched in 2023 and provides up to $7,500 for constructing a secondary suite for a senior or an adult with a disability.

Recent municipal zoning reforms have cut some of the red tape in adding secondary suites, but the financing remains a barrier for many, which the proposed loan program is designed to address. There will also be proposed changes to mortgage insurance rules to further aid densification through additional suites.

“Many Canadians, such as retirees who own their homes, or younger families who want their parents to move in to live close by, might want to add a unit to their home,” said finance minister Chrystia Freeland. “Through our Housing Accelerator Fund, we’ve already reformed zoning to make this possible, and today, we’re announcing homeowners will soon be able to access up to $40,000 in low-cost loans to make it easier add secondary suites. We’re also going to reform mortgage rules that currently prevent homeowners from adding more units, so we can increase density, for those Canadians who want to, in communities across the country.”

Other housing related proposals in Budget 2024 include bolstering renters’ rights, a new Housing Infrastructure Fund, a pledge to build almost 4 million new homes by 2031 and topping up the Apartment Construction Loan Program.

It was recently announced that Canada is set to implement changes in its mortgage regulations that may provide a lifeline for first-time homebuyers.

The budget will be delivered in the House of Commons at 4pm ET today (April 16).