Looking for a Home with a Secondary Suite?

April 17, 2017 / Permit Pointers

What to Look for When Purchasing a Home with a Secondary Suite

 So, you’ve decided to purchase a home with a secondary suite. It’s an excellent investment for immediate passive income or assistance with a new mortgage, as well as your home’s future value. But what’s next?

It’s imperative when purchasing a home with a suite that the property is designed properly and is in accordance with necessary bylaws. First things first. To be considered a suite in most cities, it must have its own private entrance, kitchen, sleeping and living areas. It also must have a minimum ceiling clearance and proper egress from the bedrooms. The main property cannot share any of these living facilities with the tenant in the secondary suite, so it must exist independently.

Aside from the architectural elements of a secondary suite the most important details to consider are the residential zoning requirements, property bylaws, occupancy standards, health and safety requirements, and plumbing and electrical codes. Often when you’re searching for a home with a secondary suite you will come across ones that have been built but are not properly licensed. Don’t end up with a property you can’t rent out by not doing your homework.

Often sellers will use the term “retrofit” to describe a secondary suite that is not properly licensed or coded. Remodeling a property to make it legal could be time-consuming and costly, and potentially not worth the investment.

To make sure a home you’re interested in has a “clean” secondary suite, some cities will offer program where you can request an inspection from the city planning or inspection group. If you do attempt to rent out a suite that isn’t legal you could be forced to transform the home back into a single-family property, or pay for the remodeling required to legalise the property. You also risk being sued if an accident or death happens in an illegal secondary suite. All these potentially stressful situations can be easily avoided.

With a little research, planning and the proper inspections, you should have no problem reaping the benefits of a passive-income, and a home that will likely hold its high value for years to come.

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