Secondary suites in Calgary
The City of Calgary describes a secondary suite in Calgary as a self-contained living space consisting of a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, located within or on the same property as a single family home. The secondary suite in Calgary is also called a basement suite, a mother-in-law suite or a granny suite.
The secondary suite in Calgary can either be illegal or legal and are used by many home owners in Calgary as mortgage helpers.
The estimate is that in Calgary there are currently about 40,000 homes where home owners rent out an illegal secondary suite. So far, the City of Calgary has only investigated these suites when there are complaints. Complaints may be from the public (tenants, neighbors) or from the police of fire department. If officials find a suite is illegal, they can shut it down.
At this point in time, a secondary suite is only allowed (and therefore legal) in certain areas and communities in Calgary, and only if they meet certain building, zoning and safety requirements. For example, a secondary suite is not allowed in areas zoned R-1, R-C1 or R-C1L, without a successful application for a Land Use Amendment.
Mayor Nenshi has had the legitimization of secondary suites in all of Calgary on his agenda ever since his 2010 campaign. And although city council agreed in April 2012 to allow suites in ALL new neighborhoods in Calgary, there are still lengthy and costly hurdles for people who would like to put a legal suite into place or who want to turn an illegal suite into a legal one.
If the zoning is not right, this needs to be addressed first, which can take quite some time. After this has been rectified by getting a Land Use Amendment in place, a development permit application must be submitted. It is important to understand that a successful Land Use Amendment application is no guarantee that the secondary suite will be approved. After receiving the development permit, a building permit must still be applied for.
This whole process can be lengthy, costly and without any guarantees for success. The cost aspect involves the most common requirements for a legal suite; they include (but are not limited to) certain ceiling heights, window sizes and locations, smoke separations, interconnected smoke alarms, independent heating and ventilation system, proper placement and location of gas fired furnaces, water heaters and electrical panels.
It will be interesting to see how this is going to develop if Mayor Nenshi will be elected for a second term. If he is able to implement his whole plan, it will for sure be helpful for many existing and soon to be home owners as mortgage helpers (especially with the constant tightening of the mortgage rules), and it would give a positive turn to the rental market with the currently increasing rental rates and the rental vacancy rate dropping.
For more information or to receive the Secondary Suite Brochure, please feel free to give us a call, anytime!