Two unit residential converted back to a single family dwelling

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HOME Forums Forums Fire Code & Enforcement Two unit residential converted back to a single family dwelling

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  • Author
    • #12582
      Len PappLen Papp

      Good afternoon, hope everyone is staying safe in these difficult times.

      Situation= We are getting many OFM appeal decisions back where they have rendered there decision and stated that as an option to complying with our order (two unit residential occupancy) that the owner can convert the two-unit residential unit back to a single family dwelling unit.

      How is your department handling this situation. What is your opinion on a conversion back to a single unit? What are the elements that you would consider/expect in this situation?


    • #12585
      Denise RoseDenise Rose


      We would ask that the kitchen appliances be removed.  Very hard to police.

      Stay safe!



    • #12586
      John WilsonJohn Wilson

      I’ve got one of those in progress right now. To me, it’s fairly straight forward: they apply for the building permit and proceed with the construction. This one actually met most (if not all) of 9.8 as inspected, they just loved the spot. I had a previous one where there were a ton of problems as neither the owner nor the contractors used had any real idea of what they were doing. Basement bedroom and bathroom existed and they had added a kitchen in the rec room and a door on the main floor that separated it from the rest of the house and used a side door. No separations and really poor plumbing. We said take the kitchen out and remove the main floor door and all was fine.


      There are many occasions where there are options to compliance with the Code. Often that is either provide the prescriptive requirement OR make the building not fit the application sentence. I’ve written lots of Orders that had “or as an alternative” in the Action section. Every time I’m aware of a reasonable option, I include it in my Order.

      I’ve had a couple places that as inspected, they fit To meet the rest of 9.5, they would have had to upgrade a whole bunch of separations. I gave them the option of permanently sealing several basement accesses (which took literally a handful of screws) and it no longer fit the application sentence and then only 2 & 6 applied.

      With if the building meets the OR component as inspected, I would give them the option of permanently sealing one of the doors and providing a different access/egress point (as that’s potentially relatively easy to do) then it’s back to only 2 & 6.

      Another situation is with Fuel Fired Service Rooms like They can provide the required separation OR switch the appliance to electric and the separation is not required.

    • #12594
      Craig BennettCraig Bennett

      Hi Len,

      I have always looked at these situations concentrating on the doorway between the two units.

      If there is no possibility of locking this door and all occupants have free and unrestricted access to all areas of the house then it is a Single Family Dwelling Unit.

      I would also want a letter of declaration from the owner stating that this door will remain lock free and occupants will have free access to the entire house.

      I know the removal of the second stove and/or cooking appliances is a popular method to contend with these scenarios but IMHO, that is not fair. Many families of certain cultures have stoves in the basement to use in conjunction with there main floor kitchen stove.



      Take Care,



    • #12611
      George MacrisGeorge Macris

      Hi Len,

      in Markham we have a guide to help out residents on how to legalize their existing second unit if they wish to do so. We have steps/procedures outlined for them when the second unit has been built prior or post July 1994.

      See Markham Fire Dept link to guide

      On page 6 of the guide we have information on how to convert back to a single family dwelling as follows:

      Converting Back to One-Dwelling Unit Home
      You have the option to convert back to one dwelling unit home at any time and not go through the
      process of legalizing your second dwelling unit, by completing ALL of the following:
       all tenants/occupants must be removed from one of the dwelling units,
       The locks separating the two dwelling units shall be removed and replaced with
      passage sets,
       Stove in the second unit is to be removed,
       Contact your Fire Prevention officer for a site visit to confirm the above,
       Complete the “Single Family Dwelling Unit Declaration” form in Appendix C and
      provide to the Fire Prevention Officer.


      Take care,


    • #12630
      Len PappLen Papp

      Thanks Craig.

    • #12708
      Vicki VeldmanVicki Veldman

      Working with our planning and building departments, if it is determined a unit is being removed we require:

      – a letter of commitment from the owner that the building is being converted back to a single family dwelling and at such time they want to add a unit they will contact the Planning Department for approval prior to the change. Once approval has been given by the Planning department a building permit will be applied for to Change the Use of the building;

      – The removal of separation or barrier doors between the two units;

      – the removal of the kitchen in the unit that is being removed, and

      – in the case it has been determined bedrooms need to be removed from maybe a cellar, we would ask for a sketch of the floor area showing how the space is going to be used.

      To remove a kitchen:

      – the stove wiring needs to be removed back to the electrical panel.

      – Either the fridge or the sink and counter can remain.  One needs to be removed.

      – If you choose to remove the sink, the plumbing will need to be removed and properly capped at the nearest intersecting branch.

      Hope this helps.

    • #12712
      John WilsonJohn Wilson

      I’m with Craig, I don’t see where removing the second kitchen either helps the situation or more importantly, is within our authority. Where is there anything that says a single family home can’t have 2 kitchens? or bedrooms in a basement? etc….

      If they legitimately want to go back to a single family dwelling (like mine did) with only one kitchen and did a major reno, then that’s easy. But if they want to get out of the requirements of 9.8 with the limited amount of work possible, remove any locks on the separation door (nothing says you can’t use a rated door in a non-rated interior partition) and letter from the legal owners acknowledging it’s use as a single family dwelling and move on.

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