If you are looking for a legal suite in Canada, you may wonder how to do it legally. The first thing you will need to know is the zoning rules in your area. You will also need to find out how much it will cost to get it legalized.
Calgary is promoting the building of new legal suites
In the latest real estate market, condominiums and townhomes are becoming more and more popular. This has caused a vacancy rate to double in Calgary over the last year. Adding a secondary suite is one way to create density in areas where it is not allowed.
A secondary suite is a rentable apartment in a basement. It is a great option for renters who can use the extra income to pay their mortgage. If you are planning on selling your home, you should consider adding a secondary suite to the basement to help you get a higher price.
To build a legal secondary suite, you need to change the city’s zoning. You can also get a free development permit for two years. The city is also offering a registry sticker program, which allows you to register your home and check it against the Secondary Suite Registry.
You can apply for the city’s amnesty program if you have an illegal suite. In return, you will receive a reduced development permit fee, which can save you up to $700.
As well, the city will reimburse you up to 70% of your costs. However, the program will not guarantee you a specific number of suites. There is a 240-year serviced land supply for secondary suites in Calgary.
Many community members support removing the regulations on basement suites. They believe that a better utilization of the existing footprint would be a good solution to the housing crisis in Calgary.
City officials want to add at least 800 new legal suites per year. They are holding information sessions in the hopes of attracting interest. Those interested in the rezoning pilot project can apply through council.
Calgary’s current legal suite registry is only 1,500 units
There’s an old saying in town, “The best things in life are free.” Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case in Calgary. This city is plagued with a tight rental market, limiting rental options for prospective tenants. To make matters worse, the rules that govern suites aren’t always clear.
For example, you can legally call a suite a basement, but you’ll still need to get a development permit before you can start building the space. You also can’t advertise an unregistered suite for rent. The City of Calgary thankfully offered a little help in this department. Now, you can apply for a development permit for a second story suite and receive a waived fee.
Of course, you don’t have to live in Calgary to benefit from the suite-making craze. A secondary suite could be a good way to help your mortgage payments, or even add a nice touch to your retirement fund. It’s not hard to see why the City of Calgary wants to crack down on suites. After all, the city has been hit with a number of complaints over the past few years, most of them involving illegal and/or misbehaving suites.
One of the best ways to combat the suite-making epidemic is to remove the shackles from the rental game, allowing you to take a more active role in the process. That’s why Calgary city hall has created a new website, a mobile app, and a handy phone hotline. In addition, the city’s new suite wizard is on a mission to provide tenants with the information they need to know in order to make an informed decision. While the city still has its work cut out for it, this is a great first step.
Calgary’s illegal secondary suites estimate stands at 16,000
In the grand scheme of things, the City of Calgary has to tread lightly when it comes to illegal secondary suites. One of the many challenges is the sheer number of’rentals’ on the books. The city has a tally of about 16,000 units of secondary accommodation. Some of them are legal, while others aren’t. A city hall report says that between 2020 and 2022 it received about 2,500 complaints relating to the proliferation of these abominations.
There are no concrete numbers on how many illegal suites are in the pipeline, but it’s likely the aforementioned number is a conservative estimate. As it stands, the city has a tight rental market, which limits tenants’ options. Thankfully, new rules and regulations are on the horizon that could make life a little easier for some. This includes a new suite-building code of conduct, which will make it more difficult for illegal suites to game the system.
In addition to new rules, the City of Calgary is looking for ways to keep suites off the books, including charging fees. To that end, the city has launched a public consultation process. The results are expected in late 2015. In short, a number of measures have been put in place to reduce the number of illegal suites on the books. With the right mix of incentives, the squeaky wheel can be oiled and the scalaky poodle can be relegated to the sidelines.
As a city, we need to learn how to make a good faith effort to keep these suites out of the boonies, while preserving the integrity of our rental market. That is the only way we can ensure the well-being of our residents.
Zoning rules for legal suites in Canada
Zoning rules for legal suites in Canada vary from town to town. Despite this, the primary premise is similar: homeowners can legally add a residential unit to their property as long as it meets all of the rules. This includes a number of other requirements, such as setbacks and setback rules, and zoning restrictions.
The simplest way to determine whether or not your property is up to snuff is to check your local municipal bylaws. Once you have identified the legal status of your property, you can apply for a building permit, and then wait for the results. If the permit is approved, you can move forward with the project.
For those looking to build a secondary suite, the City of Calgary has a free development permit program that will help you get your project off the ground. In addition, the city is waiving suite registration fees for the next two years. As such, now is the perfect time to get started.
A secondary suite, or “in-law” suite, is a separate residential unit that is attached or detached from the main dwelling on your property. It can be a standalone unit, or it can be connected to the main home through an interior door. It must meet all requirements of the Building Code, and a final inspection must be performed.
A secondary suite may have a lot of names, including in-law, basement, or basement suite. While a suite may seem like a great addition to your home, it can be a daunting undertaking. You will need to consult with your neighbours, as well as your municipality to make sure you do it right.
Ultimately, the primary determinant of whether or not your secondary suite is legal is a qualified inspector’s opinion. But in the meantime, you can check your zoning by-law to see if your property is Suite Ready.
Costs of legalizing a rented unauthorized suite
The costs of legalizing a rented unauthorized suite in Canada can be expensive. If you are a homeowner who has been renting out your second home, you might be considering upgrading the suite to make it legal. However, before you decide to do so, you need to understand the benefits.
Legalized suites can increase the value of your home. They can also reduce the impact on your neighbors. Moreover, they can provide you with an additional income that can make your mortgage easier to qualify for.
In addition, you can get a more accurate bill for energy consumed by your tenants. These costs are based on the occupancy standards set by the city. It is important to know that, in 2024, the process of registering suites will be more difficult.
Homeowners who have illegal secondary suites will be subject to bylaw compliance proceedings. During this process, they may be charged extra water and sewer fees. Depending on the municipality, they may also be subject to an inspection.
You can reduce the risks of having an illegal suite by using long-term tenants with a good history. It is also important to keep in mind that the landlord and tenant have to adhere to the Residential Tenancy Act.
Moreover, you can use the additional income to buy a larger home. This will also increase your chances of qualifying for a higher mortgage.
If you are looking to upgrade your home, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a qualified and licensed building contractor. Your unauthorized suite will be treated as an unauthorized accommodation and you should disclose the details to the seller before closing on the purchase.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.