Secondary Suite

What is a Secondary Suite?

A secondary suite is a subordinate self-contained dwelling unit located in a structure in which the principal use is a single detached dwelling or semi-detached dwelling. A secondary suite has cooking, food preparation, sleeping and bathing facilities which are separate from those of the principal dwelling within the structure. Secondary suites also must have a separate entrance from the dwelling. This use includes conversion of basement space to a dwelling unit, or the addition of new floor space for a secondary suite to an existing dwelling. This use does not include duplexes, row housing, or apartments where the structure was initially designed for two or more dwelling units, and does not include boarding and lodging houses. Garden suites and garage suites are not considered secondary suites.

How do I develop a Secondary Suite (basement suite)?

Step 1:  When a homeowner considers a secondary suite in their existing home, it is recommended that a fee for service form (fee: $262.50) be completed and sent in to The Inspections Group.  Call The Inspections Group Inc. at 1-888-853-6411 to obtain the necessary forms.   

Tip: In existing homes, the reason why it is recommended that an inspection be completed prior to applying for a development permit is that the homeowner may be unable to make the required changes (due to building permit requirements) because of costs and/or timing.

Tip:  Don't forget to check if your zoning district allows for a secondary suite. A Secondary suite may be considered either: Permitted Use (P), or Discretionary Use (D), or Not Allowed (-) within your zoning district.

Tip:  Safety Tips Brochure - Secondary Suites Standards & Smoke Alarms

Step 2:  Town's Building Safety Codes Officer (SCO) would visit the property and do an inspection. A report then is usually prepared to outline any required changes. 

Step 3:  If after receiving a report, the homeowner desires to proceed with a secondary suite then a development permit application can be filed with the Town's Planning Department.  Please submit the inspection report prepared by the Building SCO with your application.

Step 4:  Once a development permit application is submitted, the department reviews the application on it's own merits (zoning, location, and availability of parking).

Tip:  If listed as a permitted use, the processing of an application is up to 40 days.

Tip: If listed as a discretionary use, it can take up to 3-4 months to receive a final decision.  These types of applications can be approved with conditions, tabled for more information or refused by the Municipal Planning Commission.

Step 5:  If the Development Permit is approved, a Building Permit application must be completed together with a fee and submitted to The Inspections Group Inc.

Step 6:  Homeowner makes the required changes with the secondary suite and then calls The Inspections Group Inc. for an inspection.

Step 7:  Homeowner may rent out the secondary suite once a Final Inspection Report and Permit Services Report (PSR) has been completed by The Inspection Group Inc. stating that the secondary suite is code compliant.  

What is a photo sample of a Secondary Suite?

Sample Photo

How do I find out if the secondary suite I am renting is allowed or meets code?

To find out if an owner has a legal secondary suite, you may ask to see a copy of the issued Development Permit from the Town of St. Paul.  Secondary suites have been regulated within the Town limits for quite some time (1967).

To find out if the secondary suite meets the building codes, you may ask to see a copy of the building permit -  final inspection report.  The current rules and regulations are located here (cieling height, smoke-tight walls/ceiling/doors, window of proper size to escape, smoke alarms etc.)

**It is not too late to comply with the current regulations. Please call the department for more information.

What are the rights of a landlord and/or tenant?

The rules that govern landlord and/or tenant is called the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). A link to the Province of Alberta's webpage can be found here.  The Town of St. Paul does not regulate or enforce these rules.  The link above could be used as a reference for a landlord and/or a tenant.