tiny home kitchen with small appliances

Update: Check out our Land Directory for Tiny Homes!

Do you want the good, the bad, or the ugly? Because there is a little bit of all three in the current Ontario regulations for tiny houses.

What’s legal in Ontario (the good):

You can build a tiny house as a primary or secondary dwelling on land in Ontario as long as:

  • you have a building permit,
  • own the land,
  • and the house conforms to the Ontario Building Code.

In order to get a building permit from your municipality, your house plan also has to comply with municipal by-laws. Generally, this means you need to respect setbacks from property lines, etc. But for most Ontario municipalities, this also means your house cannot be on wheels. With some exceptions, most Ontario municipalities relegate tiny houses on wheels to the “mobile park” or “campground” zone.

So, good news: Ontario municipalities for the most part do not have minimum footprints for homes (which can be a major obstacle in other provinces). Also, the Ontario government is taking clear steps towards promoting smaller, more affordable dwellings through the Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) or Additional Residential Unit (ARU):

According to Ontario.ca:

Subsection 16(3) of the Planning Act requires municipalities to adopt official plan policies that authorize the use of additional residential units (ARUs) in both the primary residential unit and in another building on the same property (for example, above garages or in coach houses).

What’s complicated in Ontario (the bad and the ugly):

With the above work being done, there are still some things that are complicated for tiny house dwellers.

First of all, many of them want their tiny house to have wheels. It’s one of the biggest selling points of a tiny house. There is definitely movement in allowing tiny houses on wheels in Ontario – we see the meeting minutes of different Ontario municipalities and it’s certainly being discussed. The bad news is, to date, wheels are a point of complication.

The second very important point is all of the above regulations that are intended to increase housing supply and give people more affordable housing options, only increase the supply of rental housing. We consider this the ugly side of the affordable housing regulations. As one of our friends, Stacey, pointed out, “In order for me to get a tiny house, I need to buy land with an entire other house on it.” That’s really the effect of the Additional Residential Unit legislation. By definition, only people who already have a property with a primary residence are able to get a permit to build a secondary residence. They can then have their children or parents live in that house, or rent it out. However, this doesn’t increase home ownership options among groups that want to stop renting but cannot afford a $1M+ house. The people who aren’t already property owners can’t lease a parcel of land and move a tiny house on wheels onto it. So, that means tiny houses are, for no good reason, accessible only to people of certain means.

Tiny Home Progress!

All these regulations are still new and we have yet to see the practical implications of tiny home living in Ontario cities. We can already see that the building code has some awkward limitations on things that are typical in tiny homes, such as sleeping lofts. We also have written about how encouraging renting rather than ownership of tiny homes may kill some of the spirit of the tiny home community. Arguably, what the community needs is parking spaces, not homes for rent. 

However, we feel that Ontario is moving in the right direction! The provincial government and municipalities have recognized the value of tiny homes as a dwelling option and have taken steps to allow and encourage them. While in the past, living in a tiny home would have been limited, inconvenient, and questionably legal at best, now this option is open to more of us who are not comfortable being full-time rebels. Hats off to the rebels who have paved the way to these developments – we are excited to see the resulting growth of the tiny home community in Canada. 




  1. Could you please tell me what the website is to buy the codes from and thank you, Ontario as well

  2. Thanks for such an informative post!

  3. Hi. My dad asked me to find him the CSA certified A277 information and it seems to be well hidden. How do I get it ???? He’s looking for the Ontario ? rules and regulations implemented by the government that covers all the requirements for making a tiny home.

    1. Hey Eva, you have to buy the csa code requirements from their website

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