What is a legal Basement Bedroom and Egress Window?

Basement Bedroom and Egress Windows.

Kitchener Waterloo is a university town and as such many people have tried to take advantage of this by adding bedrooms in the basement for rental purposes.  We have had a number of clients come to us asking what makes a basement bedroom legal.  It is important to note that the City of Waterloo has recently introduced new rental bylaws that impact almost all rental units within the city for more information on this please read the following article.


Each city and municipality have different variations on this so it is important to check with your local authority, however the Ontario building code states that

  • Each bedroom level should have at least one outside window that can be opened from the inside, which shall provide an unobstructed opening of at least 0.35 m2 (3.75 sq. ft.) and with no dimension less than 380 mm (15 in.).

We find many people are misinformed on this.  You DO NOT have to have the egress window in the bedroom itself.  The egress window simply needs to be on the same floor.

There are other restrictions that municipalities impose on basement bedrooms.  For example in both Kitchener/Waterloo

The minimum bedrooms size is:

Bedroom             65sq ft (with closets)

Bedroom             75 sq ft (without closets)

There are also natural light requirements that you must adhere to.

The following are minimum window areas based on floor area of rooms.  These areas are cut in half if the house is over 5 year old.

Washrooms-windows not required

Kitchen-windows not required

Living and dining rooms- 10% of area served

Bedrooms and other finished rooms- 5% of area served

For more information and diagrams on basement egress windows and legal basement apartments please click here