Legal Versus Illegal: Basement Suites

by | Last updated Nov 21, 2019 | Published on Sep 16, 2019 | Basement

In Calgary, many homeowners may consider adding a basement suite to help bring in more money. The suite can be rented to anyone and can be a good source of income for the homeowner. Unfortunately, many basement suites in Calgary are not legal and could lead to issues for the homeowner. Anyone who wants to bring in extra money by renting out space in their home should make sure they have a basement suite that is up to date. That also follows all current regulations before they start looking for a tenant.

What are Basement Suites?

Basement suits are apartments inside a home. They’re a self-contained area that has been added to the house to rent out the room. The basement suite will have its bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen, but may share parking, the yard, and other necessities with the homeowner. They are added to single-family homes to allow the homeowner to rent out space in their basement. Making it a useful space and allowing for extra income. Basement suites are legal in much of Calgary. But they need to follow the code and have the right permits before a tenant can move in.

Basement Living Room Interior

Why Many Basement Suites are Illegal


Illegal basement suits can be ones that have built without the required permits, are in areas where they are not allowed, or are older and do not conform to current code requirements. If the basement suite is in a part of the city that doesn’t enable suites, there may not be much a homeowner can do to rent out their basement suite legally.


To make an illegal basement suite legal, space will need to be inspected by the city. If the homeowner built the suite and didn’t have all of the required permits, it may be possible to have it checked and brought up to date so long as it meets all of the current city regulations. If the basement suite is older, it may be possible to correct any issues to bring it up to date and request approval under the current rules.

Creating a Legal Basement Suite

Homeowners in Calgary can go ahead and develop a basement suite to bring in extra income if it is allowed in their part of the city and if they have the proper permission to do so. Homeowners should check with the city to find out if basement suites are legal in their area. Then, they will want to look into the process a bit more and make sure this is something they can do and want to do.

In older homes, the basement might not be big enough to create a suite. Homeowners may not be able to get permission to create the suite. In many homes, however, the basement will be large enough so that the homeowner can move onto the next step.

The homeowner will need to have the basement inspected and start designing the basement suite. They’ll need to get the required permits and ensure they are doing every part of the renovation correctly. If the renovation is not done correctly, they will end up with a basement suite they can’t use. Older homes may be more expensive to bring up to code when renovating, so this is something to keep in mind.

Updating an Illegal Basement Suite

Just because the home already has a basement suite doesn’t mean it’s legal to rent to a tenant. Homeowners who want to begin using a basement suite to bring in money should have it inspected to make sure it is legal. If it is not permitted, they can have a contractor bring everything up to code and make sure they have the proper permits for the suite. Once all of this is done, they’ll be able to find a tenant for their suite. Depending on how much needs to be done, this could be cost-prohibitive. But it’s usually a good idea to at least have it inspected and find out what needs to be done.

Basement suites can be a great way to bring in extra money. But homeowners do need to make sure their suite is legal to avoid any issues in the future. If you’re looking into adding a basement suite to your home or upgrading an outdated suite, contact us today. We understand all the local regulations and permits needed to create a legal basement suite. We’re ready to help you create a basement suite for your home that’s fully compliant with local laws and prepared to rent.

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