Legal Suites Coming to Duplexes and Skinny Homes in Edmonton
Many people are not aware that suites in duplexes and townhomes are not legal in Edmonton, and this week City Council voted to prepare the bylaw amendments to allow secondary suites in duplex units and skinny homes. It’s going to take a long time though, don’t expect to see legal suites in duplexes and skinny homes until 2017.
Even though they’re not legal, there are plenty of duplexes out there with suites in the basement, especially in mature neighbourhoods near the University. So this is great news for those who own, build, or want to buy duplexes. For others, like residents in certain communities that are putting restrictive covenants on their own titles to prevent densification, this might not be such a welcome idea.
I believe this is a positive step by the city for many reasons, here are just a few:
The schools in the ‘burbs are bursting at the seams, while many centrally located schools are shrinking and even closing. Kids in some outer areas are bussed to more central schools nowhere near where they live, partly to keep those schools open. There are many reasons young families choose the ‘burbs, but when you get right down to it, they can buy a nice, new(er) house outside the Henday for less than a run down tiny bungalow in many mature neighbourhoods. A newer half duplex in a mature neighbourhood becomes more attainable for a young family, if they can rent out the basement or a suite over the garage.
There are potentially thousands of illegal secondary suites in duplexes and skinny homes already. If they make them legal, enforcement officers can focus on ensuring they’re safe, with proper fire exits.
A home with a legal suite has more value than one with an illegal suite; if a suite is illegal, we can’t market the fact that it has a suite, and therefore you can’t search the database for homes with illegal suites, but homes with legal suites can be marketed as such and can be easily found by real estate agents and buyers alike. Rental income can be considered when applying for a mortgage, increasing the amount a buyer may qualify to borrow.
Edmonton developed faster than any other major urban centre in Canada, is the third largest city in terms of space and 15th most dense. We’re spread out, to say the least. This by-law change would allow up to 4 units, where one house once stood, helping increase density and curb sprawl.
All in all I think this is a positive move by City Council and look forward to seeing the by-law changes next year.
PS – the home in the photo for this blog article is located in McKernan and is currently for sale (one or both sides) with separate basement entrances, and could potentially have legal basement suites when the by-law is changed.
About Sara MacLennan
Sara MacLennan is the Director of Marketing at Liv Real Estate and a licensed Real Estate Associate. The bulk of Sara’s experience and wealth of expertise lies in on-line technology and marketing both for agents and consumers. Sara is the former National Director for Interactive Marketing for Coldwell Banker Canada where she was responsible for an extensive training program traveling to offices across the country training agents and brokers on marketing and technology. Find Sara on Twitter @edmontonblogger.