Calgary offers grants for secondary suite additions


A blog this week by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., promoted a grant program for landlords who want to add a secondary suite – a definition that encompasses basement suites, a mother-in-law suite, or a granny suite. Secondary suites consist of a bathroom and kitchen located within or on the same property as a detached house and can be no larger than 70 meters squared, according to the City of Calgary website.

Unlike most major cities in Canada, Calgary has laws forbidding basement suites in areas zoned for stand-alone houses.

In September, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi tried unsuccessfully to push through his campaign goal of permitting suites in almost all stand-alone houses. Aldermen rejected the idea of a plebiscite on the secondary suites, but not after an alderman supportive of the suites accused an opponent of “environmental racism.”

For those landlords with properties not zoned for stand-alone houses, the city is offering the Enterprise Housing Program’s Secondary Suites Grant Program. It’s set to run through May 2012 and offers a grant of up to $25,000 to cover 70% of the costs of developing or upgrading a legal secondary suite.

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.

“A secondary suite works well for some tenants while providing welcome additional income for landlords,” said the Tenant Verification Service blog. “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.”

For interested landlords, the city is offering workshops to help educate property owners on the process and eligibility rules.

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