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In-law Suites: What Are They and What You Need to Know

In-law Suites: What Are They and What You Need to Know

Whether you’re a homeowner with aging parents or you’re looking to earn rental income, you may be considering adding an in-law suite to your property. Many people find in-law suites to be an attractive alternative to moving family members into nursing homes. Welcoming renters into your home is also a great way to earn extra money. 

Whether you’re turning your single-family home into a multigenerational living space creating a separate living rental unit, there are important legal considerations to keep in mind. In this blog post, we’re sharing everything you need to know before adding an in-law suite to your house. 

What is an In-Law Suite
Secondary suites also known as in-law suites or “granny-flats” are dwellings within an existing home, such as a basement suite.

A backyard suite or guesthouse is a separate unit detached from the primary residence. Typically these are re-purposed garages or laneway suites.

Both secondary suites nd backyard suites are typically a self-contained living area consisting of their own entrance, full bathroom, full kitchen or kitchenette, living room, and sleeping area. However, for the purpose of selling and buying, these suites cannot be sold separately from the residence as they commonly source their utilities from the main house.

The Benefits of In-Law Suites

Many Canadian cities have already implemented legislation approving secondary suites as a step towards more affordable housing. For instance, many cities in Ontario have shifted their stance on secondary suites to create more affordable rental accommodations, provide an additional income stream for property owners, and ensure that these dwellings are subject to safety and building bylaws. 

If you own and live in your home, you may be eligible to obtain financial assistance upwards of $60,000.00 from the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.

In addition, adding an in-law suite has the added benefit of making your home more desirable to future homebuyers. The added square footage will contribute to your home’s resale value. However, it’s not always necessary to add square footage to create an in-law suite in your home—alternative options include rearranging floorplans or repurposing existing rooms. No matter which option you pursue, it’s important to keep the following legal requirements in mind. 

Key Legal Considerations for In-Law Suites in Calgary

Prior to recent changes, the city Council of Calgary regulated secondary and backyard suites on a case by case basis. Although the City of Calgary has not scrapped this procedure and still uses it for re-zoning purposes, the City of Calgary has recently begun a registry for legal suites. Until December 31, 2021, they have stated that they will waive up to $900 of fees. This total includes the costs for a development permit and the registration of the secondary or backyard suite. 

However, in order to receive the permit, the suite is required to pass an inspection from an agent of the City of Calgary, including meeting the requirements in the 2014 Alberta Fire Code and the Public Health Act. A few of the requirements are as follows:

  1. Each bedroom must have a certain sized window that is both fully functional and unobstructed from opening;
  2. The drywall and ceiling must be “smoke tight”;
  3. The Smoke alarm must have both a wired connection to the electrical panel and a secondary power source (such as a battery);
  4. Additionally, if the secondary or backyard suite is to be built or was built after March 2018, there are additional requirements to be satisfied,  including the requirement that the suite must have a separate heating source.

Navigator Law Can Help with Your In-Law Suite Questions

Before you welcome any renters or family members to their new home, it’s important to ensure that your in-law suite meets all the necessary legal requirements in your area. From zoning laws to building codes and occupancy laws, our lawyers are well versed in local real estate law and can help save you money by providing you with the legal advice you need.  If you have any questions about in-law suites, please give us a call, submit a inquiry, or email, and we will be happy to provide you with guidance.