There are a few good reasons why people are in the market to buy a home with a secondary suite – so much so that they’re even willing to jump through all the hurdles of approvals to build homes to include these additions. Renting out a second suite is a great opportunity for homeowner’s to subsidize their mortgage payments. These homes tend to be valued higher – so as a potential buyer you would be paying a premium – however in return you have the potential to earn rental income and increase property value compared to homes without a second suite.
These are all great perks - but what if you just happened to find your dream home and there happens to be a secondary suite in the basement – what do you do with it? You can of course still buy the home and go about your merry way, but if you are looking to utilize the space for some additional income there are a few things you need to be aware of.
Is the suite legal?
First things first – do your homework before you buy. All new and existing secondary suites are required to be safe in accordance with the Alberta Safety Codes Act. Find out if permits have already been issued for the secondary suite before you get ahead of yourself.
Below are some general requirements that must be met for a suite to be considered legal:
* The suite must be self-contained: separate bathroom, kitchen and living space
* Must meet a minimum ceiling clearance – these differ depending on municipal codes
* Have two forms of unobstructed escape: at least one direct exit via a door to the outside and one bedroom window to meet specific size and style requirements
* Have an accessible laundry area
* Meet a minimum ceiling height
* All legal and safe secondary suites require a parking space on the property
* Second suites must adhere to specific residential zoning and health and safety requirements, occupancy standards, property bylaws, and fire and electrical codes o Find out what municipality the property is located in – from there you will have a clearer picture of the exact codes for your given community.
If you decide to buy a home and the suite is not legal – then you should not rent it out. Rather, do what needs to be done to turn it into a legal suite. If the secondary suite was built prior to 1970 it’s known as legal but not conforming to code. If you were thinking of renovating the suite, as an owner you would be required to apply for a Development Permit and Building Permit. Legal suites that existed prior to December 31, 2006 must meet the requirements under the Alberta Fire Code.
If you're ready to take the leap into secondary suite homeownership, connect with me to ensure your future investment is up to code.