Real Estate Blog

Is Now The Time To Legalize Your Secondary Suite?


CLICK HERE to view the HIGH-QUALITY version of this article.



Do you have an existing secondary suite that is not currently on the City of Calgary's Registered Secondary Suite list? 

If your answer is yes, then you may want to seriously consider legalizing it before June 1, 2020, because the City will have a new approach to illegal secondary suites.


Why Now? 


There are two good reasons.  First, until May 31, 2020, the City is discounting and waiving fees and using the current Building Code. Any existing suites submitted for approval after  June 1, 2020, no discounts will apply, and the new building code will be affected (National Building Code - 2019 Alberta edition). One of the significant changes in the new building code is that secondary suites a dedicated heat source, such as a furnace, for each unit = $$$ 

The second reason is that as of June 1, 2020, the City of Calgary will be actively pursuing illegal suites that are not on their registered list.  



What does this mean for you?   


Because the City will be actively seeking illegal suites, your suite could be shut down, and there will be tighter restrictions and cost you more to legalize it later.



WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

Applications and properties are considered on a case-by-case basis and below is a basic outline of the general process as described to me by the City of Calgary.



1) CONFIRM YOUR LAND USE DISTRICT


CLICK HERE and type in your address in the “Step 1” section to confirm your land use district.  If your land use is for only one suite on the property  (example R-C1 or R-1) or DC (the City has Direct Control), the City will need to a) approve the usage and b) a Development Permit is required.  


If only one suite is permitted on the property, there is no guarantee the City will approve the secondary suite

because it does not comply with the current land use.



2) BOOK A COORDINATED INSPECTION

Contact the City of Calgary directly by calling  403.268.5311 or using their 311 Online Services site.  For this appointment, a Bylaw and Safety officer will review the suite, advise on the outstanding items and land use policies.



3) APPLY FOR A DEVELOPMENT PERMIT

If your land use is discretionary and approved at the coordinated inspection, a Development Permit (DP) application will be submitted. The timeline for DP application review is 60 days to approve and CLICK HERE for more information about the process.


Development Permit?  Think = Can it be there?

A Development Permit is an authorization from the City of Calgary, showing that proposed construction work is approved and complies with the Alberta Building Code. Work may include construction, demolition, alterations, relocating buildings, and sometimes repairs of buildings.


4) APPLY FOR A BUILDING PERMIT

Once the DP has been approved, a Building Permit (BP) application is submitted.  There will be another inspection to review the work recommended by the safety officer, and if everything meets the requirements, then final approval will be granted.    Your property will be added to the secondary suite registration list.  The timeline for BP application review is approximately one week.  CLICK HERE for more information.



Building Permit?  Think = Is it safe?

A Building Permit is designed to address life and safety issues of a structure. It gives the authorization to erect, demolish, relocate, alter or repair a structure, or change the use or occupancy of a space.  The building permit application is reviewed for compliance of the Alberta Building Code by a plans examiner to ensure safety.



Q&A 


DO I NEED TO LEGALIZE THE SUITE IF I DON'T INTEND ON RENTING IT OUT?

If the secondary or mother-in-law suite has both a bathroom and cooking facilities, the secondary suite permits are necessary.


WHAT ABOUT SHORT TERM RENTALS AND LODGING HOUSES?

If you’re offering a short term rental or lodging house, then you’ll need to follow the respective guidelines about egress, maximum guests, advertising, etc. CLICK HERE for more information.  


For more information, go to the City of Calgary's secondary and backyard suite webpage CLICK HERE



What does this mean for you?


If you proceed with attempting to legalize your illegal secondary suite and your land use district only allows for one, there is no guarantee the City of Calgary will approve because the property does not comply with the current land use. However, with the new approach to illegal suites, the risk of getting shut down and incurring more costs and facing tougher rules is also a consideration.   



WHAT I WOULD DO


Do your research and get informed now, then call the City of Calgary to confirm the details. Give yourself time to discover all your options so you can make a confident decision on what's best for you.




I do my best to ensure all information is accurate but it's is not guaranteed.





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