Secondary Suites – Why Legalize Now?

Posted by Kevin Leung on Thursday, October 25th, 2018 at 9:05am.

Creative solutions for accommodation are always popular — and who’s not on the lookout for a good property investment. One of the most attractive options right now are secondary suites because of the flexible options they present.

Secondary suites are self-contained units that are detached from the main residency — such as a backyard unit, a laneway house, a basement suite or an above-garage unit.

Secondary suites are gaining acceptance across the country and laws are slowly catching up to reflect this new reality.

In Calgary, for example, there were just over 400 registered secondary suites in the fall of 2015. By the fall of 2018, that number had jumped more than double to 1077 suites.

Now is an opportune moment to jump on the bandwagon of building rental suites.

Councils in cities across Canada from Calgary to Edmonton to Vancouver are paving the way to encourage landlords to pursue this option — but the incentives won’t last forever.

In Calgary, for example, both the development permit fee ($471) and suite registry entry fee ($232) are waived until June 1, 2020. The building permit fees, based on the cost of construction, still remain.

As of March this year, the code requirements for suites have been relaxed. Full basement suites are allowed now as well.

If this is a direction you decide to head in, keep in mind certain safety measures to protect life and property.

For example, each bedroom should have at least one window that can easily be opened to the outside. Each unit must have a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector and at least one emergency exit that leads directly outside.

In order for a suite to be legal, there are several steps that must be taken. There is a pre-inspection process, land use approval, building and trade permits, final inspections and, finally, registration.

All this means that NOW is the perfect moment to look into legalizing a secondary suite. It’s not a difficult or complicated process but there are several steps and the sooner you act, the sooner you can reap the benefits of a rental investment.

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