There is a lot of confusion over basement suites in Calgary. What is a legal suite, an illegal suite or a non conforming suite. Since these are questions that I am asked quite a bit, I will try and explain.
What is a legal suite?
A legal suite is a suite that was constucted with all the proper permits. They complied with all the rules at the time of their construction. They still meet the rules today set out by the land use bylaw 2P80. Sometimes there is a development permit put in place allowing relaxation of the bylaw rules.
What is an illegal suite?
An illegal suite has no permits in place, they do not meet the bylaw rules. You may see or hear the term mother-in-law suite. These suites are generally illegal suites.
What is a non conforming suite?
A non conforming suite would have been legal when it was built and met all the rules of that time, but for present day they no longer meet the bylaw rules.
When these suite become non conforming it may be because the land use zoning has been changed, or the Government made changes to the bylaws. In this case the suites are known as legal non conforming. Because they were legally built at the time but due changes in rules are now non conforming.
Pre 1970: Any suite contructed or in use prior to 1970 is considered non conforming.
Between 1970-1983: Cooking facilites, such as a stove, a microwave, etc… were not allowed.
1983-present: The current land use bylaw states that kitchen facilites are not allowed in basement suites. No stove, microwave, hot plate, toaster oven or sink. No kitchen cabinets or counter tops.
If a complaint is made to the City about a possible illegal suite, the City will check out these complaints and if it is found that there are cooking facilities in the basement suite, the owner will be asked to remove the full kitchen or in some cases just the cooking appliances. If the home owners do not comply then legal action will follow.
People often get confused about about properties that are zoned R-2. If there are to be two suites in the same structure the property MUST have a minimum of 15 metre frontage and the lot size must be a minimum of 466 sq. metres. The property also needs to have an approved development permit that allows for a second dwelling unit.