A secondary suite–like a basement suite, a mother-in-law suite or a granny suite, is a self-contained living space consisting of a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen located within or on the same property as a single family home.
The Secondary Suites Grant Program as part of the city’s larger Enterprise Housing Program aimed at creating more affordable housing by offering incentives to landlords.
The Secondary Suite Grant Program ends May 2012. It offers a grant of up to $25,000 to cover 70 per cent of the costs of developing or upgrading a legal secondary suite.
A secondary suite works well for some tenants while providing welcome additional income for landlords, according to city officials. Tenants often enjoy living in a residential neighbourhood with a backyard, access to laundry, close to schools and parks, and they may get along well with you as their landlord.
However, it does not work well for everyone. You can often avoid potential conflicts over noise, utility costs, privacy, sharing the backyard, laundry and so on by ensuring you have an tenancy agreement in writing, which you’ve discussed in advance and that both you and your tenant have signed.
Running tenant background checks on rental applicants is another crucial step, especially where the tenant and landlord will be in the same home. Have each applicant complete a rental application and then run a credit report to discover if the tenant will be financially responsible. Be sure to check with the individual’s previous landlord to determine the applicant’s rental history.
As a landlord you have rights and responsibilities of which you need to be aware of before you make the decision to rent out your suite. Visit www.tenantsinfo.com for more information.
Before developing a secondary suite, you will first need to find out if secondary suites are allowed in your area; if your property is large enough; and if you can renovate to meet the necessary building code standards.
Participants must commit to having the suite available to rent for at least five years at no more than average market rent for secondary suites.
Landlords will also need to bringing an existing suite up to code, which may include installation of smoke detectors, or removing bars from bedroom windows.
A secondary suite is legal when it complies with all necessary Land Use Bylaw rules as well as building and safety requirements. The City’s Development & Building Approvals investigates illegal suites on a complaint-only basis. Legalizing an existing illegal secondary suite will vary depending on your specific circumstance.
The City warns that the addition of a secondary suite may have an impact on the owner’s property taxes.
Property owners interested in developing a secondary suite under the Grant Program are encouraged to attend a monthly Secondary Suite Pre-Application Workshop, which covers all of these topics and offers you a chance to have group and one-on-one conversations with City staff from the Grant Program, Permit applications, and Safety Codes Officers. Contact Service Alberta for more information.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.