Secondary suites have been a source of endless hours of debate for members of Calgary City Council – but that all changed in March of 2018.
Council members no longer spending hours debating the merits of individual applications for residential secondary suites. On March 12, 2018, Calgary City Council approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that allow secondary suites as a discretionary use within ALL R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L land use districts. In these land use districts, homeowners can go straight to the development permit or building permit stage. [In R-C1s and R-C1Ls land use districts, suites are a permitted use, so homeowners can often go straight to the building permit stage.]
This is a huge step forward for people who believe Calgary needs more safe – but affordable – rental options. Another advantage for people who want a secondary suite in their dwelling is that the development permit fee for all new secondary suite applications is being waived until June 1, 2020. There are application processes for BOTH those who want to apply to build a new suite AND those who want to make an existing suite legal and safe.
If you’re a homeowner in a low density residential land use area (R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L) and are interested in building a new suite, I encourage you to contact the City of Calgary to get the process started. Remember, the development permit fee is being waived until June 1, 2020.
If you’re a homeowner in a low density residential land use area, and your property has an existing (but not legal, permitted) suite that was built before March 12, 2018, contact the City of Calgary and get the process started to apply to finally make your suite legal and safe. Lives do depend on it. The City will send out an inspector who will walk you through the process of the changes you’ll need to make to make your suite legal and safe. Once those changes happen and are inspected, it will be added to Calgary’s legal suite registry. The suite registry became mandatory in June 2018 and until June 1, 2020, the registration fee is waived to be added to it once you have a legal, permitted secondary suite. The City of Calgary estimates that, currently, there could be 16,000 or more illegal basement and backyard suites in Calgary.
In October of last year, a Calgary homeowner was slapped with whopping $40,000 in fines for secondary suite violations under the Alberta Fire Code. The City of Calgary has great resources regarding secondary suites on its website: www.calgary.ca/suites. The Calgary legal suite registry can be found at: http://secondarysuites.calgary.ca/
If you’re a homeowner and have an illegal suite, you will have to disclose it as such if you list your home for sale whether you try to sell your home privately or through a Realtor.
Legal suites can also be a great way for home owners and home buyers to help pay their mortgage, but that rental income will only count towards qualifying for the mortgage if it’s a legal suite. In Calgary, the time to make an existing suite legal and safe is now.
If you're a prospective tenant, ONLY look at legal suites for your rental options for suited properties. YOUR life may depend upon it.