Everything You Need to Know About Legal Suites in Calgary

Everything You Need to Know About Legal Suites in Calgary

Learn about legal suites in Calgary and how they can turn your property into a great investment. All this while following legal suite regulations. In Calgary, legal suites – also called secondary suites – are allowed in single-family homes, making it a standout city in Canada1.

To make a calgary legal suite, certain rules must be followed. This includes a private entrance, a kitchen, a bathroom, special windows in bedrooms, and a way to stop smoke from spreading. Homeowners need the right legal suite permits and must follow legal suite zoning rules in Calgary2.

The city’s Secondary Suite Incentive Program can give up to $10,000 to help homeowners. Its goal is to create more safe and legal calgary secondary suites32. Knowing Calgary’s legal suite bylaws and the approval process can help you earn from rentals. This also helps the city in several ways, like moderate growth, using existing resources better, and providing safer rental choices1.

Key Takeaways

  • Legal suites in Calgary offer a unique investment opportunity for homeowners while providing affordable housing options for renters.
  • Compliance with Calgary legal suite regulations and building codes is essential, requiring specific permits and adherence to zoning bylaws.
  • The Secondary Suite Incentive Program provides financial support to encourage the development of safe and legal secondary suites in Calgary.
  • Legal suites must meet requirements such as having a separate entrance, full kitchen and bathroom, egress windows, and smoke-tight separation from the main residence.
  • By understanding the legal suite approval process and rental regulations, homeowners can maximize their investment while contributing to the city’s housing goals.

What is a Legal Suite in Calgary?

In Calgary, a legal suite is a self-contained unit in a house. It’s also called a secondary suite. More homeowners are adding these suites because they offer a way to make extra money. At the same time, they help provide affordable homes for people who rent4.

Definition of a Legal Suite

A legal suite must have its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living space. It’s set up like a small home. The city has rules to make sure these suites are safe and good for everyone who lives nearby2.

Requirements for a Legal Suite in Calgary

To start one, homeowners need the right permits. They must check that their suite follows all local laws. Since these suites have their own bathroom and kitchen, a building permit is a must3. The permit is also needed if the suite is reached from the outside without going through the main house2.

Depending on the work, other permits might be needed. These could include a plan to show the layout, an electric permit, or a plumbing permit2. There’s even a help program from the city. It gives up to $10,000 to homeowners to help with costs of making a legal suite23.

Legal suites have to be designed a certain way. They must have rooms with windows, a separate bath, and kitchen. The entry should be from outside, not through the main house2. Homes with a basement area can have both a bath and a shower. This makes the space good for families or couples4.

Tenants often look for their own laundry spot in a legal suite4. A higher ceiling in the basement can make it feel bigger and nicer4. A gas fireplace is a great plus during Calgary’s cold weather. It can attract more people to rent the suite4.

Permit Type Purpose Payment Options
Building Permit Required for all secondary suites, including those with bathroom and cooking facilities Online (credit card) or in-person (credit, debit, cheque, cash)
Development Permit May be necessary depending on the project Online (credit card) or in-person (credit, debit, cheque, cash)
Electrical Permit Required for electrical work related to the suite Online (credit card) or in-person (credit, debit, cheque, cash)
Plumbing Permit Required for plumbing work related to the suite Online (credit card) or in-person (credit, debit, cheque, cash)

Making sure all needed documents are in order is key to getting permits fast2. How long it takes to get a permit can change. It depends on how complete the application is and how many they have to do2.

By following Calgary’s legal suite rules, homeowners can make sure their suites are a great place to live. This helps both tenants and the community they’re in.

Benefits of Owning a Legal Suite in Calgary

Getting a legal suite in Calgary offers many advantages. It’s a great way to boost your real estate investment. It brings in extra money, ups your property’s worth, and offers flexible living options. That’s why many Calgary homeowners are turning to legal suites.

Additional Income Stream

Having a legal suite means you can earn rental money. With Trico Homes, homeowners can cut their basement development costs by 30%5. This makes it cheaper to set up. The rent you get can cover your mortgage and bring you extra cash. Plus, you might pay less in taxes because you can deduct some costs5.

Increased Property Value

Legal suites make your property worth more in two ways. They bring in rental income right away. They also make your home more valuable over time. Research shows that homes with legal suites in Calgary go up in value. This is because the extra space and features make the house more appealing to buyers5. So, having a legal suite is a smart investment.

Flexible Living Arrangements

Legal suites also let homeowners have flexible living setups. More families today are living with multiple generations. A legal suite means everyone can have their own space but still be close5. This is great for families taking care of older parents or young adults needing their own place. And, the suite can serve as a home office, game room, or quiet hideaway. This adds to the homeowner’s quality of life5.

Homeowners can make the most of their legal suite with the Secondary Suite Incentive Program. This program offers up to $10,000 for safe legal secondary suites3. If you legalize your suite before Dec. 31, 2023, you could save a lot of money. This includes up to $700 off in fees and up to $20,000 less in construction costs6.

There are now over 8,000 legal suites in Calgary, thanks to programs like the Amnesty Program6. This shows more and more homeowners see the benefits. With the legal suite market growing, those in Calgary have many finance and management options. This helps them make the most of their investment and have a smooth renting experience.

Zoning and Permits for Legal Suites in Calgary

Building a legal suite in Calgary means you have to follow zoning rules and get permits. The City of Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw 1P2007 tells us what we need to know. This includes which zones allow secondary suites, found in Part 5, Division 6 (R-1S) and Division 8 (R-2)3.

If your secondary suite is not by the law, you might need a development permit too2. Zoning may need a closer look if you’ve got unanswered questions. If the rules are not fitting well, you could be asked to get a development permit as well2.

Don’t forget the need for electrical and plumbing permits when adding or updating anything in your secondary suite2. Make sure you’re following the rules to avoid any problems later2.

The Secondary Suite Incentive Program supports making safe and legal suites, offering up to $10,000 per homeowner32.

To qualify for the legalization process, your suite must have been built before March 12, 20183. If your property has more than one suite, reach out to the Planning Services Centre3.

When getting your permits, be sure your suite matches these key points:

  • Every bedroom should have an egress window3
  • There must be a separate bathroom3
  • Also, a separate area for cooking3
  • And an entrance that’s easy to reach from the outside3

You can pay for your permits online or in person. Accepted methods are credit/debit cards, cheques, and cash2. Remember, how long it takes to get your permits approved depends on how complete your application is and how fast you respond to any city feedback2.

Aside from permits, legal suites in Calgary have to meet building code standards. This might include the need for window upgrades. For any changes to the foundation, like adding new or larger windows, make sure a registered engineer in Alberta designs it2.

Building Code Requirements for Legal Suites in Calgary

Creating a legal suite in Calgary means following the National Building Code – Alberta Edition. This guide focuses on safety for tenants and owners. By following these rules, the secondary suite will be safe, reducing risks.

calgary legal suite building code requirements

Fire Safety Standards

In Calgary, fire safety is key for legal suites. The code insists on a sealed space between the suite and main house. To do this, you need proper drywall and self-closing doors2. This division stops fires from spreading, giving people more time to get out safely.

Egress Windows and Exits

Every bedroom in a legal suite needs an egress window. It should open easily, without tools or keys, for an exit in fires3. These windows must be a certain size and kept clear for a fast escape. The code also covers how window wells should look and what window styles are okay2.

Minimum Ceiling Heights and Room Sizes

The building code sets minimum sizes for ceilings and rooms in Calgary’s legal suites. Basements need at least 1.95-meter high ceilings3. Also, the suite must offer several spaces like a kitchen, living room, and bathroom to be a proper home3.

All secondary suites always need a building permit, no matter their age3. Working with professionals for design and checks is smart. It makes sure the suite is both safe and following the law2.

Designing Your Legal Suite in Calgary

Creating a legal suite in Calgary needs thoughtful design. It must be functional, comfy, and follow the laws. Choosing the right layout, floor plans, and saving space ideas can help. This way, homeowners can use their space well and meet building codes.

A good Calgary legal suite has its own outdoor entrance. This gives private space for both the suite and the main house1. It should also have its own kitchen and bathroom, along with cozy living and sleeping spaces. All bedrooms must have safe windows for an exit, safety, and to follow rules1.

Layout and Floor Plans

Think about making your suite’s layout open and flowing. This means the living, dining, and kitchen areas connect well. It makes the suite feel bigger and works better. Use furniture that can do more than one job, like a sofa bed or a table for working, to save space.

Every bedroom in a legal suite must have a window for emergencies and light1. Make sure these windows are big enough and can fully open for safety and to meet the rules2.

Maximizing Space and Functionality

Add built-in storage to maximize your suite’s space. Shelves, cabinets, and closet organizers help keep things tidy. They make the suite look better, too.

Remember, Calgary needs a certain ceiling height for basement suites1. Taller ceilings make the suite feel more spacious and comfortable.

Making your suite sound-proof is key. It keeps the noise down, giving everyone a peaceful space. You must also prevent smoke from spreading easily between the suite and the house to ensure fire safety1.

Take time with your design to make a great space in Calgary. A well-planned legal suite will be a great place for your tenants. It will also add value to your property.

Financing Options for Creating a Legal Suite in Calgary

Creating a legal suite in Calgary is a big step that needs some serious cash. Thankfully, there are many ways to get the money you need. Some banks have secondary suite renovation loans or home equity lines of credit just for this2. You could also try refinancing your mortgage to get project funds or look at different calgary legal suite mortgage options.

calgary legal suite financing options

The City of Calgary helps out too, with a Secondary Suite Incentive Program. It gives up to $10,000 to each homeowner making a legal suite7. This money can cover safety things like egress windows and special alarms, and up to $5,000 for making spaces more accessible7.

Remember, you’ll have to pay for permits and approvals during setup2. You can do this online or in person, but you must pay when you apply2.

It’s wise to look into all calgary legal suite financing choices and talk with financial experts. They can guide you to the best plan for making your legal suite in Calgary.

Think about all the things you’ll need to spend on for your legal suite:

  • Building permits and planning approvals
  • Electrical and plumbing permits
  • Construction materials and labor
  • Safety features like egress windows and smoke alarms
  • Energy-saving upgrades like special windows and heating
  • Changes for easier access, if needed

Knowing about all the calgary secondary suite grants and finance options makes smart planning easier. It’s key to make a thorough budget, adding in extra for any surprises. This way, your project can do well and make good financial sense for the future.

Legal Suites in Calgary: Landlord Responsibilities and Tenant Rights

Having a legal suite in Calgary brings duties for landlords. These duties aim to keep their tenants safe and well. It’s key for landlords to make sure the space they rent is safe and meets all codes. Calgary encourages safe housing by giving $10,000 to eligible legal suite owners3.

Rental Agreements and Leases

Landlords in Calgary must make formal rental agreements with tenants. These agreements should cover rent payments and other important rules. They protect both landlords and tenants. It’s also good to discuss security deposits, if pets are allowed, and who’s in charge of maintenance.

Maintaining a Safe and Habitable Living Space

Landlords must work to keep their legal suites in good shape. This means checking the space often, fixing things quickly, and making sure everything works right. They need to meet certain living space standards in Calgary, like having good air flow and proper heating. All secondary suites, new or old, must have a building permit3.

Tenants deserve a safe, private place to live. They have the right to get repairs done on time, know when their landlord will visit, and live without dangerous conditions. It’s important for both landlords and tenants to know their rights and duties under Alberta law.

Landlord Responsibilities Tenant Rights
Provide a safe and habitable living space Right to a secure and hazard-free environment
Enter into formal rental agreements or leases Right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of the unit
Conduct regular inspections and address repairs Right to timely repairs and maintenance
Ensure necessary amenities are in working order Right to adequate notice before landlord entry
Comply with building codes and health standards Right to a space free from health and safety hazards

Suites built after March 12, 2018, need to follow certain steps to be legal3. Making older suites legal means meeting some rules on facilities and when they were built3. If you’re trying to get more than one suite approved, contact the Planning Services Centre for help3.

“Tenants have the right to a safe, secure, and well-maintained living space, and landlords have a responsibility to provide that environment while adhering to all applicable laws and regulations.”

By knowing and meeting their responsibilities, landlords can build good relationships with tenants. This helps everyone have a positive living experience in Calgary’s legal suites.

Marketing and Managing Your Legal Suite in Calgary

When your legal suite in Calgary is ready, it’s vital to market and manage it well. This will attract good tenants and ensure everything runs smoothly. Start by showing off your suite’s best qualities and its great location. Use online platforms, local ads, and community boards to spread the word.

Advertising Your Legal Suite

To get the word out about your suite, consider these steps:

  • Make an attractive listing with good photos and detailed info.
  • Use websites like Kijiji, Rentfaster, and Craigslist to reach more people.
  • Share on social media to reach out to local groups and pages.
  • Put up “For Rent” signs in your area to catch the eye of passersby.

Screening Potential Tenants

Properly screening tenants is key to finding someone reliable. It involves following a fair and legal process8. This usually means:

  1. Asking for a rental application that includes work history and references.
  2. Checking credit and background to assess their financial and personal background.
  3. Talking to previous landlords and employers to learn more about them.

Handling Repairs and Maintenance

As the landlord, it’s your job to look after the suite’s repairs. Make sure it’s always safe and livable8. Keep in touch with your tenants and have them report issues promptly. Fast maintenance keeps everyone happy and your investment secure.

For easier maintenance, here are some tips:

Tip Description
Build a network of reliable contractors Know good plumbers, electricians, and handymen who can help you fast.
Schedule regular inspections Check the suite often to spot and fix problems before they get big.
Maintain a maintenance fund Save some of your rent money to cover unexpected repair costs.
Educate tenants on proper use and care Teach your tenants how to take good care of the suite to avoid damage.

By focusing on marketing, screening tenants, and managing repairs, you can enjoy a great rental experience in Calgary. Remember, putting effort into these areas can lead to finding great tenants, keeping your suite in top shape, and reaping the benefits of property ownership8.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Legal Suite in Calgary

Creating a legal suite in Calgary can be a great investment. But, it’s important to be very careful. This will help you steer clear of expensive errors. There are many secondary suites in Calgary, but some are illegal or not safe9. So, make sure your suite follows all the rules and keeps everyone safe.

Failing to Obtain Proper Permits

One big mistake is not getting the right permits in Calgary. This can cause you trouble and cost you a lot. Always get the needed permits before you start working on your calgary secondary suite.

Skimping on Safety Features

It’s a bad idea to save money on safety. Your tenants’ safety is vital. Without proper safety features, like smoke alarms and good escape routes, you’re risking lives. Remember the sad story in Calgary where three people died? Their secondary suite didn’t meet safety standards9. So, don’t cut costs on safety.

Underestimating Costs and Time Required

Many people don’t realize how much time and money a legal suite can take. This can lead to going over budget and delays. Do your homework, set a good budget, and be ready for unexpected costs. Fixing any problems found later can also take a long time, even up to 6 months9.

To help you understand the impact of mistakes, take a look at this table:

Mistake Potential Consequence
Failing to obtain proper permits Costly fines and legal issues
Skimping on safety features Putting tenants’ lives at risk
Underestimating costs and time Budget overruns and project delays
Failing to provide Notice of Landlord $150 ticket under the Residential Tenancies Act9

By staying away from these common calgary legal suite mistakes, your suite can be a safe and good investment for both you and your tenants. Just make sure it meets all the rules and is safe for everyone.


Building a legal suite in Calgary is a great move. It can bring you extra money, boost your house’s worth, and let your guests live more freely. Legal suites make mortgage paying easier and increase a house’s sale price. They’re also good for renting to family or close friends at a fair price.

But remember, you must follow all rules. This means putting in time and effort to make sure your suite is in line with the law.10

To make your legal suite, follow safety rules first. Put smoke alarms everywhere, have carbon monoxide alarms near sleeping spots, and make sure the suite and the main house are fire safe.\2

Bedroom windows must be big enough to escape from. They should open easily and come in certain styles like casement or sliding. Knowing what’s needed, the advantages, and the work in legal suites helps you decide. Done properly, a legal suite in Calgary can really add value to your home.


What is a legal suite in Calgary?

A legal suite in Calgary, or secondary suite, is part of a home. It has its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living area. It has to meet certain standards to be legal, like safe windows, a separation to keep out smoke, and high enough ceilings.

What are the benefits of owning a legal suite in Calgary?

Owning a legal suite can make you money from rent. It also increases your home’s value. Plus, it’s great for families who want to live together but need their space.

What permits are required to create a legal suite in Calgary?

Homeowners need a building permit to make sure their suite is safe. If the plans are special in their area, they might need a special permit too. They might need separate permits for electrical and plumbing work.

What are the building code requirements for legal suites in Calgary?

Legal suites must follow a certain building code for safety. This includes making sure there’s no smoke passing between areas, everyone can get out easily in an emergency, and the rooms are the right size.

How can I finance the creation of a legal suite in Calgary?

You can use a renovation loan, a line of credit, or change your mortgage to pay for the suite. The City of Calgary also gives up to ,000 to help make legal suites.

What are the landlord responsibilities when renting out a legal suite in Calgary?

If you rent your legal suite, you must keep it safe and clean. You need a formal rental agreement with your tenants. It’s also important to know the rules under Alberta’s law.

How can I market and manage my legal suite in Calgary?

To find tenants, you can use online rental sites or local ads. Always check who you rent to. It’s your job to keep the suite in good shape and to be available for your tenants.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when creating a legal suite in Calgary?

Don’t forget to get all the permits needed. Safety rules are crucial, so don’t cut corners on things like smoke alarms and windows. And remember, creating a legal suite takes time and money.For the latest top legal suite properties in Calgary, contact our agent Josh at (403) 305-9167.

Source Links

  1. https://www.cedarglenhomes.com/blog/not-all-secondary-suites-are-created-equal/
  2. https://www.calgary.ca/development/home-building/existing-secondary-suite.html
  3. https://www.calgary.ca/development/home-building/secondary-suites.html
  4. https://www.thebasementbuilders.ca/blog/legal-basement-suite-requirement-calgary/
  5. https://tricohomes.com/blog/homebuying-tips/benefits-of-developing-your-basement-or-adding-a-legal-secondary-suite-to-your-new-home/
  6. https://newsroom.calgary.ca/top-five-reasons-to-legalize-your-existing-secondary-suite-before-amnesty-program-ends/
  7. https://www.calgary.ca/development/home-building/secondary-suite-incentive-program.html
  8. https://tartinbasementdevelopments.com/legal-suite-calgary/
  9. https://www.reddit.com/r/Calgary/comments/2mqo8l/our_illegal_suite_story_was_featured_in_the/
  10. https://luxuryhomescalgary.ca/blog/legal-suites-in-calgary-what-you-need-to-know

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