Home and Property

City building

If you're working on your home or business, building a new structure or doing a renovation, the City of Peterborough offers useful information to help you through your project. We also regulate removing trees and we can provide you with information on property taxes.

Building and renovating

We have numerous resources to help you comply with by-laws and Ontario Building Code requirements for your home renovation and construction projects. We encourage you to visit our building and renovating section to find information on building permits, zoning by-laws and development charges. Whether you're installing a fence, putting in a swimming pool, adding a deck or building a major addition, we've got information to help guide you through the process.

Trees

We recognize the environmental, aesthetic and public health benefits that trees provide to our community. Through the interim Tree Notice By-law and the Woodland Conservation By-law, we regulate the removal of healthy trees to maintain our urban forest, collect information, and plan for the future of our tree canopy.

Utilities

The City of Peterborough maintains storm and sanitary sewers. Peterborough Utilities Commission supplies residents and businesses with safe, clean water. Peterborough Distribution Inc. and Hydro One deliver electricity to residents and businesses in the City. And there are other providers of utilities services, such as natural gas, in our community.

Property taxes

We are committed to providing helpful information about your property taxes. You can find information on tax rates, tax classes, how property taxes are calculated, and where your tax dollars go through our property taxes section.

Stormwater

We maintain a system of pipes, maintenance holes, catch-basins, ponds, treatment devices and outfalls for the management of stormwater runoff in our community. Stormwater collected through the system discharges into a creek or the Otonabee River. About 25% of the stormwater runoff in the City receives some treatment in a stormwater management pond or oil-and-grit-treatment device.

Property Standards

Property Standards help promote, ensure and enforce a set of general repair and safety standards within our community. These standards are the minimum physical conditions which private properties and structures must meet for the maintenance of all buildings, dwellings and open spaces within the City of Peterborough. The Property Standards By-law also helps ensure minimum living conditions for tenants, as well as the appearance of a neighbourhood. Maintaining property standards enhances the quality of the surrounding area, and protects the health, safety and well-being of people. Landlords are are required to meet property standards for their tenants. If, for example, a landlord does not deal with a deficiency after the tenant has brought it to their attention, our Building Division can play a role in bringing the property into compliance.

 Property maintenance
Property maintenance is similar to property standards but it is a quicker process with a narrower focus. The Property Maintenance By-law is primarily concerned with the general appearance of a property. Maintenance standards include restrictions on grass and weed height, and the storage of junk, garbage, inoperable machinery and vehicles. The timelines for compliance are much shorter than under the Property Standards By-law. This by-law tends to be applied when a particular property doesn’t have the same degree of maintenance as the others in a neighbourhood.
 Filing a complaint

Before filing a property standards complaint, please ensure that you have done all you can do to resolve the problem. This would include notifying the property owner or the landlord/property manager about the nature of the problem. You cannot expect someone to address an issue if they do not know about it.

If you are a tenant, it is best to put your issues in writing since many landlords use a tracking system for complaints, and verbal requests can’t always be tracked. It may be useful to include a reasonable time frame for them to correct the problem. You may choose to copy the City’s Building Division on your letter to show that you are serious about having the issue(s) remedied. The City intervenes only after a landlord has been informed of an issue but hasn’t taken the required action to resolve a matter within a reasonable time period.

Submit a complaint

We require that a complaint about private property be lodged in writing (via online Property Standards Complaint form, letter, email or fax), providing the following information:

  1. The address of the property in question. 
  2. A short description of the problem (point form is fine).
  3. Contact information of the person filing the complaint (name, address, contact phone number).
  4. All complainant information will be kept confidential. Investigation will commence only after a written complaint is filed with the City.

Complaint Forms can be found in the reception area of the Building Division.

Building Division 
City of Peterborough
500 George St N
Peterborough, ON  K9H 3R9
Fax 705-742-1294
Email the building division

If a property standard deficiency is found during an inspection, our property standards officer typically sends a letter to the owner noting what needs to be dealt with, along with a deadline for completion. When work is not complete by the deadline, the City may issue orders that have a further compliance date. If that deadline identified on the order is not met, and the Order has not been appealed, then the City may take legal action against the owner.

 Frequently asked questions
 
Q: Will my name be kept confidential if I file a complaint?
A: Yes, if your testimony is not required to obtain a conviction. Even if someone files a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, your identity will be protected by the Clerk’s Office when they respond to the FOI request. However, if your testimony is required to obtain a conviction because a City inspector does not have all the information required to obtain a conviction, then your identity will become known during the process leading to a trial.
Q: Can we get something cleaned up or fixed as soon as the complaint is filed? 
A: The short answer is, no. There are legislated timelines that require us to give property owners a reasonable amount of time to rectify matters. In some cases, an owner may not even be aware that there is a problem. It’s only fair that an owner be given a chance to correct a deficiency. With some properties, it has taken years for a problem to reach a point where someone makes a complaint about it. If it’s taken that long to reach that state, especially if hoarding is involved, it’s going to take a while to remedy too. Even if a situation has been going on for years, for the most part, it is new to us at the City from the first inspection. 
 Q: My neighbour’s property is a mess. Can you make them clean it up?

A: Yes, but there are times when it may appear that they still aren’t meeting the Property Maintenance By-law 96-41.

The City permits natural gardens. Our by-law reads that anything on the lawn must be kept under 8”/20cm. This height regulation is not applied to anything in a garden. Some people are turning their lawns into gardens.

Sometimes a property simply looks a mess and dishevelled. There may not be anything we can do to tidy things up. It may be a case of the residents not putting their possessions away. The key to enforcing this by-law is finding out if something is wrecked, discarded, dismantled, inoperative or abandoned. If it is, then the by-law is being contravened.

Vehicles do not have to be plated, have a valid sticker, be insured, e-tested, or actively on the road to meet this by-law. They do however need to be operable. In other words we have to see it start and move under its own power. It is not our concern why the vehicle is not taken for drives.

Garbage and debris cannot be left on a property without being taken to the curb for weekly pickup or taken to the City landfill. Until this happens, bags should be properly contained in a covered bin, and debris should be tarped so that it doesn’t blow around or be an eyesore to others. Unused appliances or furniture should not be stored in your yard, but at least should be tarped. For safety, freezers or refrigerators need to have the door removed or somehow prevented from opening.

Q: What if I don’t like where my neighbour is putting their fence, the height of it, the style, or the materials being used?
 

A: Both neighbours need to work it out. The only fencing issues the Building Division gets involved with are

  • if the fencing is derelict;
  • if a property has a pool or hot tub;
  • if a fence is near where a driveway and front street line intersect, under By-law 94-64; or,
  • if a fence is too high near an intersection under section 6.19e) of the Zoning By-law.

A request can be made through the Clerk’s Office for a fence viewing under the Line Fences Act when there is a dispute between adjoining property owners. This Act is applies when one owner wants to construct, repair or maintain a fence on a property boundary line, but is unable to reach agreement with the other owner on the type of fence to be erected, the sharing of the costs of the fence, or both of these issues. The Clerk’s Office should be contacted regarding the fees involved for this service at 705-742-7777 ext. 1799.

Q: I am getting water runoff from my neighbour’s property. Who deals with it?
A: No matter where you are getting water from, such as a higher property, a misdirected downspout, a pool or a sump pump, this is a private matter between you and the other party. You may need to hire a lawyer if you cannot work it out. Water should be contained on one’s own property, but if this cannot happen, then it should, with the written permission of the City, be directed to the street where it will flow into the City’s storm sewer system.
Q: What can be done about my neighbour putting their snow on my property or the street?
A: Just as with water runoff, snow should not be deposited on anyone else’s property. This is a private matter between neighbours, which if not solved, could lead to civil litigation. Snow must be placed on your own property, not on neighbouring properties or pushed onto the street. It is an offence to push snow or ice onto any public road under the Highway Traffic Act. Call the police at 705-876-1122 if you see this happening.
Q: There is a tree limb overhanging my yard, and I don’t like it there. 
A: Under English Common Law, you have the right the cut anything in your airspace, back to the property line. If your act somehow damages the tree to the point it dies, you might be held civilly liable by the tree’s owner. Nothing about this situation is enforced by the City.  Property Standards only gets involved when a tree is in an unsafe or unhealthy state, not if it encroaches into another property’s airspace.
 Q: What are the restrictions for residential parking?
A: Section 4.3.2 a) of the Zoning By-law assists in limiting vehicles from parking on the boulevard and front lawn by restricting how many can park within 20ft/6m of the front property line. 
Under Subsection d) and e), Commercial and industrial vehicles such as certain types of vans, trucks, and equipment (backhoes, front end loaders, etc.) over a certain weight (6000lbs/2725kg) are prohibited from residential zones although ones that weigh less than that can be parked there, but only if the operator resides at that property.  
The placement of recreational vehicles such as boats, trailers and R.V.’s on residential property comes under subsections f) and g) of the Zoning By-law and regulates the placement of such by the length of the vehicles. Anything over 25ft/7.6m is prohibited from being placed in the front yard, which includes the driveway, but can be located in the side and rear yards as long as it is more than 4ft/1.2m away from the lot lines. Vehicles under this length can be in the front yard but must be at least 1ft/0.3m away from the side or rear lot lines. 
If there is a situation with a vehicle parking on the public road, the Parking Authority needs to be contacted about those regulations. 

Q: My bedroom doesn’t have a window. Is this legal? 

 A: All bedrooms are required to have at least one window for the purpose of ventilation and the entry of light. The window should be 5% of the size of the floor area of your bedroom, i.e. if the bedroom is 100 square feet, your window should be 5 feet in area.  The window must have an openable portion of at least 15”/380mm, and a total openable area of 3.8ft2/0.35m2. There must also be a screen on the openable portion.

Not all windows are required to be egresses. Only one window per floor is a required egress. An egress window needs to have an openable portion of at least 18”/460mm, and a total openable area of 4 ft2/0.38m2.

Q: How do I know if my apartment is legal?
A: Your dwelling unit could be illegal if any of the following apply: your landlord doesn’t provide you with rent receipts; the apartment is in the basement; the apartment is in a house that was built after 1995. If the apartment you live in is not legal, then it may not have been built to the minimum standards required by the Building Code, and could be unsafe.

Apartments built on or before November 16, 1995 can be legalized with a Statutory Declaration under Bill 20.

If an apartment can be legalized with a Statutory Declaration, then the Fire Prevention Office will make sure it has the proper fire separations and passes an electrical inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority.

A new option became available to create or legalize a second unit on a property with the passing of Secondary Suite By-law (18-048) in 2018.

Q: How many students can live together in a house? 

A: Under the Zoning By-law there is no exact limit, but new zoning and licensing requirements were passed in 2017 to standardize regulations to reflect modern housing situations in society. Licences will be required for all residences with four or more bedrooms that rent one or more bedrooms. Any dwelling with fewer than four bedrooms, even if all bedrooms are rented, will not require a licence. The category of business licence is dependent on numerous factors, such as the number of bedrooms, whether the dwelling operates as a single housekeeping unit, and if the property has the required zoning.

 

Check with the Clerk’s Office for further details.
 Q: My neighbour seems to be running a business out of his home. Is this allowed?
A: Under section 6.23 of the Zoning By-law, all residential properties can operate a home Based Business but there are limitations on its operation with regards to signage and uses, and the permitted floor area requirements. 
Q: My neighbour seems to be doing vehicular repairs out of his garage. This can’t be allowed, can it?
A: Yes and no. If the person is an occupant of the property and is working on or repairing their own vehicle, then it is, but the repairs must be limited to one vehicle to be repaired. Proof of ownership of the vehicle and residency of the person doing the repairs may be required.

If a business is being conducted on site, or if friends, family or neighbours are going to this person for service, even without the exchange of money, then the operations would need to cease, and the mechanically inclined person would need to fix the vehicle at the owner’s property or go to a properly zoned establishment.

Since staff cannot monitor such operations around the clock, the City would require the assistance of neighbours to make observations about what was occurring and be willing to testify in court if compliance wasn’t being met. We would be prepared to subpoena anyone in the neighbourhood as well as the owners of the vehicles being repaired about the activities.

Q: Our rental home is not reaching a temperature of 70F/21C during the winter. What can be done about it?

A: There are two by-laws that deal with temperatures not reaching the above minimum level between September 15 through to May 31. One by-law is administered by the Health Unit and is applied when the tenant does not have control of their own heat, or the building owner/manager does not have the heating system operating between September 15 through to May 31.

 

Peterborough City-County Health Unit: 705-743-1000

 

If the tenant has control of the thermostat but is still unable to get the temperature to reach a minimum of 70F/21C due to faulty or missing equipment, then the Building Division is the appropriate authority to contact.