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Secondary Suites FAQ

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What is a secondary suite?

Secondary suite means a second self-contained dwelling unit that is located within a primary dwelling unit, where both dwelling units are registered under the same land title.  A dwelling unit means a self-contained building or a portion of a building usually containing cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities and used as a permanent residence by a household.

What is a legal non-conforming suite?

This is a term that is used by Planning and Development Services to describe a suite that was legally constructed to the building code in effect at the time of construction but does not conform to the current land use bylaw.  The city has chosen to accept these existing suites that are on record and not require them to go through any zoning or development application process.

It is important to recognize that these suites still must comply with the current Alberta Fire Code requirements in order to be legally rented out.  Secondary suites are not 'grandfathered' in the same way that most buildings are.

What are the safety code regulations that pertain to secondary suites?

The construction of secondary suites has been regulated by the Alberta Building Code since December 2006.  Many secondary suites in Alberta were in existence prior to this time.  In an effort to address the safety concerns that these existing suites presented, the 2006 Alberta Fire Code introduced a set of minimum requirements that all suites needed to comply with regardless of when they were constructed. 

How do I know if my suite complies?

It is recommended that you contact us to arrange for a site inspection so we can properly evaluate.

How do I arrange for an inspection?

Contact Planning & Development Services at 403-529-8374 to arrange for a site inspection.

What if my suite doesn’t comply?

If deficiencies are discovered during our site inspection we will provide you a report which outlines what you are required to do to bring your suite into compliance.  We will then follow up to ensure the work is completed within a reasonable timeframe, for some upgrades this may be up to 6 months.  If you choose not to perform the necessary upgrades your suite cannot be legally used for rental purposes. 

Can you provide something in writing if my suite is compliant?

If upon our initial or follow-up inspections we find your suite is in compliance with the Alberta Fire Code we will issue you an approval letter and a registry sticker to be posted at the entrance to  the suite.  You will also be eligible to have your suite listed on our secondary suite registry website.

What is the risk of not complying with the secondary suite requirements?

It is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure their secondary suite is compliant.  If we are made aware of an non-compliant  suite by way of a complaint or other means we may issue an order to comply and/or lay charges under the Safety Codes Act.  You may also be subject to other legal proceedings that are brought about either civilly or criminally as determined by the courts.  Insurance policies require that owners comply with all pertinent regulations and would likely deny coverage if they discover that Fire Code regulations have not been adhered to.

Are there any other regulations that pertain to secondary suites?

Development permits are required for new secondary suites or existing suites that were not legally constructed. For more information on development permits please contact Planning & Development Services at 403-529-8374.

The Public Health Act Minimum Housing and Health Standards contain safety requirements that must be followed for all types of rental properties.  For more information on these requirements please contact Alberta Health Services environmental public health at 403-502-8205