FAQ: Regulations For A Secondary Suites in Edmonton

Posted by Gurpreet Ghatehora on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 at 8:49am.

Secondary suites are an amazing way to supplement your income, but you have to do it through the proper channels. Here are just a few common questions that people ask when it comes to secondary suites in Edmonton, what regulations exist, and how to make the most from your secondary suite.

What is a Secondary Suite?

In Edmonton, a secondary suite is a very specific form of suite, one that needs to meet specific requirements to be considered legal and viable. But there are actually three different kinds of suites that you can have on your property: a secondary suite, a garage suite, and a garden suite.

A secondary suite is a completely separate apartment within your home, like a basement suite or, as it is affectionately called sometimes: the “granny flat.” According to the City of Edmonton, a secondary suite “must have an entrance separate from the primary house, either from a common indoor landing or directly from the side or rear of the house.” It also requires its own kitchen, sleeping, and bathroom facilities. Secondary suites can be created through renovations and home conversion, but you cannot consider a duplex, apartment building, town house, or semi-detached home any kind of secondary suite.

A garage suite is a little bit different from a standard secondary suite in that it’s not a part of the home but still a part of the property. A garage suite is “a dwelling located above or attached to the side or rear of a detached garage which is accessory to a single detached house.” It must have its own kitchen, sleeping, and bathroom facilities, just like the secondary suite.

A garden suite is just like a garage suite except that there isn’t a garage. In general, people have come to think of these as lane houses, which are smaller homes on the other end of a property and are becoming more popular in Edmonton.

Can Any Edmonton Home Have a Suite?

Nope. Those are all controlled by the zoning laws, so some neighbourhoods are allowed secondary suites, garden suites, and garage suites, while others do not allow them. You can always petition to have your zoning laws changed, but this can be a very laborious process, and you’ll need lots of people in the neighbourhood to get on board.

Also, all three kinds of suites are only allowed on or in properties with a single detached home.

Do I Need Permits?

Absolutely. You can head to the City of Edmonton website to get the applications and permits. In general, there are two applications: one for new homes and one for converting an old home to include a suite. In both instances, you’ll also need all the other applicable permits, charges, and permissions, including Heating, Plumbing and Gas and Electrical permit charges. You’ll also have to pay the Sanitary Sewer Trunk Charge.

If you’re planning on having a secondary suite for extra income, be sure to follow all the rules and regulations. Failure to do so can put you in serious trouble and end up costing you more money than you may think.

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