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Laneway houses

A 1½ floor, 643 square foot laneway house on a 44 foot wide property

Laneway houses create opportunities to increase the diversity of rental units in low density neighbourhoods by providing: 

  • An additional housing option beyond owning a house or renting a basement suite 
  • More opportunities to live in detached and ground-oriented rental housing 
  • Housing for diverse groups of people, including seniors ready to downsize, adult children who want to live independently, and renters who want to live in detached housing 
  • More opportunities for people to live in neighbourhoods across the city, close to their jobs, services, and frequent transit

Build a laneway house

Amendments to laneway home regulations

On July 24, Council approved amendments to the Zoning and Development Bylaw. These amendments simplify the laneway home regulations, make it easier and more cost effective to build laneway houses, and improve the livability of new laneway houses.

Key changes include:

  • Introducing an outright review process for 1.5 storey laneway houses
  • Changing the method of measuring height
  • Increasing maximum allowable heights
  • Relaxing dormer regulations to allowing greater design flexibility on the second floor
  • Introducing minimum room size requirements
  • Providing more flexibility for siting one-storey laneway houses

Documents

Next steps

Council will consider the enactment of the amending bylaw at an upcoming meeting. Subject to enactment, permits for laneway houses will be issuable under the new regulations, and the Laneway Housing Guidelines will be repealed.

Staff report introducing proposed amendments

On June 19, 2018, Council received a staff report introducing proposed amendments the Laneway Housing Program to simplify the laneway home regulations, reduce processing timelines, and improve livability of laneway homes.

The report was referred to a public hearing in July 2018, where the public will have an opportunity to speak to Council on the report recommendations.

Laneway housing review: Survey and industry workshop summaries

In early 2018, more than 600 laneway house occupants and owners responded to our survey. We also held two meetings with laneway house builders, designers, and architects to draw on their experience.

The feedback was incorporated into the review of the laneway housing program and helped shape opportunities to improve new laneway houses in Vancouver, and the process of building them.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts and experience!

Council approves Laneway Housing Review and Innovation Challenge work as part of the Housing Vancouver strategy

November 29, 2017 – Council approved the Housing Vancouver strategy and 3 Year Action Plan 2018-2020, which include direction to launch a Laneway Housing Review and Innovation Challenge to improve efficiency and affordability of laneway housing options.

Since 2009, when the laneway housing program was adopted, over 3,000 permits have been issued for laneway houses across the city.

Looking forward, the Housing Vancouver strategy sets new targets to ensure our city has the right supply of homes, including a diversity of rental and ground-oriented options in low-density areas. These include a target for an additional 4,000 new laneway houses by 2028.

Council approves amendments and program expansion

July 9, 2013 – Council approved amendments to the laneyway housing regulations.

Housing on back lanes is not a new concept. It exists in many cities, and is typically called coach houses, granny flats, accessory units, or infill housing. 

In Vancouver, there have long been some zones (mostly located in older areas, such as Kitsilano, Mt Pleasant, Grandview-Woodland) that permit a form of housing called ‘Infill’. 

However, during public dialogue in 2007-2008, people were envisioning a new form of housing that would be especially suited to the city’s single family areas, with more of the concept of a rental cottage on the lane that individual homeowners could add to their own property, while keeping their main house.

In July 2009, Council adopted laneway housing regulations and guidelines for properties in the RS-1 and RS-5 single family districts, which make up 94% of the city’s single family lots.

After 100 laneway housing permits were issued, staff reported to City Council with a Monitoring Report on Laneway Housing Development in November 2010.  Council directed staff to report back with amendments to address key issues of neighbourliness, livability, and length of the permitting process. Amendments to the program were designed to respond to these issues by:

  • Encouraging the development of more one storey laneway houses, which have less impact on neighbours and are more accessible for an aging population and families with small children.
  • Making laneway housing more livable by allowing more floor area for living and storage space without increasing the size of the house.
  • Allowing a faster permit process for one storey laneway houses, and ensuring the provision of on-site parking.

In July 2013, Council approved amendments to the laneway housing regulations and guidelines and expansion of the program into new RS districts.

Questions about laneway housing policy?

Contact the Planning Department

laneway.housing
@vancouver.ca