My attempt to get a secondary suite in Calgary

retiredby50

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Background: I found a foreclosure in Marlborough, NE Calgary at a decent price. It’s a 4 level split, 3 beds up, enough room to park 5 cars, plus a large heated double garage out back, and an illegal suite in the basement. The cash flow would be stellar with the suite, and barely acceptable without it.

I took posession in January.

In February, in during my renovations, a lady from the city showed up. She knew about the suite. All evidence of a kitchen needed to go. I was ripping it out either way-in theory, to replace it-so I did so and invited her over to photograph it.

I was cordial-best to develop a relationship with the governing bodies-and asked her in passing how she’d found out there was a kitchen.

THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW IF YOU’RE BUYING IN MARLBORUOGH OR FOREST LAWN:

She said that there is a ‘vigilante’ who is operating in those two neighbourhoods. He scours the rental ads and mls.ca. If he comes across anything that says ‘illegal suite’ or ‘non conforming suite’ he immediately phones in a complaint, which the city is obligated to pursue. She said so far about 40 complaints have come in from this one guy, creating a huge amount of work for her. (as an aside, my brother wondered if the person is maybe in some way connected to the young people who were killed/injured in the basement suite fire in Calgary. It is possible)

I want that suite badly enough to pay the $3000 for the zoning change-$8400 a year in cash flow is worth it in my book. A member of the city will be contacting me in the next 10 days to begin the process.

I’ve been told the major wild card in this is the neighbours. I’ll introduce myself to them once I’ve started the process and try to get them on board.

Can anyone provide any other insights as to how to increase the odds of success on this?

Thanks, and I’ll keep this thread going with updates as the process goes along. No sense keeping the learning to myself.

Cheers

Keith
 

aiden1983

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Registered
QUOTE (retiredby50 @ Mar 15 2010, 09:12 AM)
Background: I found a foreclosure in Marlborough, NE Calgary at a decent price. It's a 4 level split, 3 beds up, enough room to park 5 cars, plus a large heated double garage out back, and an illegal suite in the basement. The cash flow would be stellar with the suite, and barely acceptable without it.



I took posession in January.



In February, in during my renovations, a lady from the city showed up. She knew about the suite. All evidence of a kitchen needed to go. I was ripping it out either way-in theory, to replace it-so I did so and invited her over to photograph it.



I was cordial-best to develop a relationship with the governing bodies-and asked her in passing how she'd found out there was a kitchen.



THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW IF YOU'RE BUYING IN MARLBORUOGH OR FOREST LAWN:



She said that there is a 'vigilante' who is operating in those two neighbourhoods. He scours the rental ads and mls.ca. If he comes across anything that says 'illegal suite' or 'non conforming suite' he immediately phones in a complaint, which the city is obligated to pursue. She said so far about 40 complaints have come in from this one guy, creating a huge amount of work for her. (as an aside, my brother wondered if the person is maybe in some way connected to the young people who were killed/injured in the basement suite fire in Calgary. It is possible)



I want that suite badly enough to pay the $3000 for the zoning change-$8400 a year in cash flow is worth it in my book. A member of the city will be contacting me in the next 10 days to begin the process.



I've been told the major wild card in this is the neighbours. I'll introduce myself to them once I've started the process and try to get them on board.



Can anyone provide any other insights as to how to increase the odds of success on this?



Thanks, and I'll keep this thread going with updates as the process goes along. No sense keeping the learning to myself.



Cheers



Keith




Good luck with this process. I really hope you can get it as the process seems to have way too much red tape.
 

margaretcowan

Frequent Forum Member
REIN Member
I`ve been looking at similar houses in Edmonton. My REIN realtor, Corey Young and future REIN property manager, Tyler Uzulman at Libertas both say to rent the whole house to one party. Perhaps an extended family needing two suites or some friends who want to share a house by living in two separate suites. Renting the whole house to one party avoids the illegal suite issue.

Tyler also said to take applications from both parties, not to leave it up to the main floor tenant to sublet the basement suite to avoid losing control of who you`re renting to. Libertas` leasing manager told me that there is a demand for these kinds of two suite houses with people doubling up to save money in this tighter economy.

Then your vigilante would be out of job!

Best of luck
Margaret
www.italycookingschools.com
 

retiredby50

New Forum Member
Registered
Unfortunately the issue is that the kitchen itself must go, and not reappear under the current zoning, according to the city. I can`t put one back even to rent it to one family.

If the rezoning process fails, my backup plan is to get a family in on a rent-to-own. It would have a total of 4 beds, 3 baths and 1800SF of developed area, and it`s about 3 golf strokes with a #1 driver to Calgary`s ring road, so I`ll still be able to still cash flow it, just not to nearly the same level.

But if I can make the zoning thing happen I will. I may as well go for it. if successful my cash flow will pay for the trouble and cost in about 6 months. Just as importantly for me, I`ll know what is involved in going through the process, and I may even make an ally at the city. Some day I think it will come in handy to have that experience under my belt.

In the mean time I`ve halted production on the basement in case I need to do some upgrading for safety codes. I will rent out the upstairs and garage until I have completed the rezoning process, whatever its outcome, so I can get some cash moving in the right direction.

...and that`s the way things are, so far,

Thanks for the insights
Keith
 

dwoychuk

New Forum Member
Registered
QUOTE (retiredby50 @ Mar 16 2010, 01:28 AM) But if I can make the zoning thing happen I will. I may as well go for it. if successful my cash flow will pay for the trouble and cost in about 6 months. Just as importantly for me, I`ll know what is involved in going through the process, and I may even make an ally at the city. Some day I think it will come in handy to have that experience under my belt.


Can`t hurt to know how it works! Keep us posted, as I am sure others would love to know some of the process on this! (Me included)

Cheers,
 

retiredby50

New Forum Member
Registered
Update:

I`ve contacted my New Best Friend(heretofore referred to as NBF) over at the city. She has filled me in on a few of the details.

They are on board:

What I need is to have the letter "S" added to the back end of the zoning, which will allow a suite. NBF says they very much want to see this happen, and as such she`s being very helpful. It looks like making my place to physically fit the bill is a slam dunk, so it`s mostly a matter of whether or not council will re-zone.

The rezoning is a lengthy process:

The rezoning process costs $3K and takes 3-6 months. She said to expect 6 because it has to go all the way to city council. There is no refund if it fails. The neighbour to the north has already expressed concern that I`m renting it out and so he may be a problem, but it sounds like he has to mount a pretty compelling offensive to kill it if I`ve complied with everything.

There are bylaw changes afoot that will help on size restrictions:

One of the issues is that my basement is pretty large. In the past you couldn`t go even a frog hair over 70 square metres. But on April 15 the planning people are taking a proposal to council which would allow them a variance of up to 10% on the floor area. My NBF thinks it will pass. That`s good for all of us, because now our suites can go from a maximum of 753 SF up to as high as 828 SF without having to do silly things like blocking off entire rooms and having shared laundry. A big thumbs up on that one.

There are safety codes questions:

I think these would apply to 90% of our houses.

1-the code says the upstairs needs to have access to the panel. The panel is, of course, in the mechanical room along with the downstairs laundry. I`m putting in a separate, stacking washer/dryer upstairs so there are no shared spaces. I`m hoping not to have to add a sub-panel to the upstairs because it gets tricky to have the mechanical room as a shared space.

2-The code also says both suites need their own heating AND ventilation system. That sounds like the need for a completely separate furnace, which is next to impossible without the use of dynamite...so I`m hoping adding baseboard heat in the basement will suffice on that one.

I`m showing the upstairs tomorrow. That will get me some revenue while I`m waiting for the word from the city. I`ve done the renovation in such a way that if the rezoning doesn`t happen, all I have to do is move a fridge, remove a door from its hinges, and badda bing...it`s back to a single family home which I can either sell on a rent-to-own deal or rent to a family that wants a big house.


All for now.
Keith
 

DaveRhydderch

New Forum Member
Registered
Very interesting Keith. I`ve talked to the city before about re-zoning, and from what I gathered it was a random process. Definitely keep us informed and good luck.

Dave
 

Sherilynn

Real Estate Maven
REIN Member
Greetings Keith.

I can`t speak for Calgary, but baseboard heating can be a viable option. You may need to use 240V for it to qualify (otherwise they may not view the heating system as having enough capacity). You may also need to block off the heating ducts to the basement suite and provide a separate ventilation system.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

Sherilynn
 

RedlineBrett

Senior Forum Member
REIN Member
Definitely appreciate the posts. Seems everyone I read about or talk to has a different experience with the city on this. We are overdue for a success story so definitely cheering for you!
 

angell

New Forum Member
Registered
Hello Keith,



I know this is an old thread but I was wondering if you could give us an update as to how your application turned out as I have a similar situation in the same community.



Thanks!
 

wgraham

New Forum Member
REIN Member
For all concerned with this thread you should be aware of the following...thanks to Sandy for posting.



Update:



There is an important meeting to discuss options to develop a SECONDARY SUITE policy in Calgary. Landlords need to be present to have our voice heard!





TO BE HELD 2011 FEBRUARY 16 AT 9:30 AM


IN THE ENGINEERING TRADITIONS COMMITTEE ROOM


BASEMENT OF OLD CITY HALL







The Secondary Suites Update Report
(LPT2011-11) is now available through City Clerks at the following link. There is a main report plus 6 attachments.











http://agendaminutes.calgary.ca/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=118&doctype=AGENDA
 

wealthyboomer

New Forum Member
Registered
Below is an explanation from Allyson Foulkes, Senior Development Inspector, Compliance Services,


regarding how the City currently deals with Illegal Dwelling Units:






At this point in time we do not do proactive enforcement as we do not have the staff


levels to accommodate the workload, we work on a complaint basis only. Complaints


are taken by `311` or `Customer Advisory Call Centre` at 403‐268‐5311. The


complainant is required to give a valid name, address and phone number. Any


additional information the complainant can provide is helpful, such as how many


people, have they been in the building, have they lived there, what have they observed,


etc.






Once the complaint is taken, a complaint file is created and forwarded to a Development


Compliance Inspector (DCI). The DCI reviews the Land Use designation for the property


(R‐C1, R‐C2, etc.) and will check for the history of complaints for the site. For a first time


complaint, a Development Inspectors Report is mailed to the property owner advising of


a specific date/time for an inspection. At that inspection, the DCI completes the


inspection of the basement, main floor, 2nd, 3rd floors and garages. As part of our


investigation, it is determined what year the building was built, when the illegal dwelling

0px; margin-left: 0px; font: normal normal normal 11px/normal helvetica; color: #305c8e;">unit was built and which bylaw was in effect at that time. Based on these items the DCI

determines what is permitted on the property and if there is a bylaw violation and which


components of the illegal dwelling unit are to be removed.






Where there is a bylaw violation, the DCI issues a Development Inspectors Report


directing the property owner to correct the violation. It usually means removing the


illegal dwelling unit from the building by removing the kitchen facilities (or perhaps just


the cooking facilities depending on the age of the development). If the illegal dwelling


unit is occupied by tenants, the landlord is required to evict the tenants in writing and


give a copy of the Eviction Notice to the DCI. After the tenants have vacated the


premises, the property owner will be required to remove the illegal dwelling unit.






A follow‐up inspection with the property owner ensures the illegal dwelling unit is


removed. If it has been, the complaint file is closed and the complainant advised. If the


property owner has not complied, a legal Notice is issued ordering the property owner


to comply with the bylaw by removing the illegal dwelling unit(s). The property owner


can appeal the Notice to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. If an appeal is


submitted, SDAB hears the appeal and then allows/refuses the appeal and may stay

t: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font: normal normal normal 11px/normal helvetica; color: #305c8e;">enforcement. If no appeal is submitted and the property owner still does not comply

with the directions to remove the illegal dwelling unit, evidence is obtained and charges


are laid against the property owner. We will always require a follow‐up inspection to


ensure the property is in compliance with the bylaw before a file is closed.
 
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