It’s safest to describe the area as an illegal suite and let the buyer draw their own conclusions about how they might want to use the space based on their risk tolerance and independently obtained ideas.

Remember, the public, including organizations and municipalities, can see information in the public remarks. Including public remarks about an illegal suite might result in the homeowner facing enforcement from the municipality. This may expose the listing agent and brokerage to fault if a homeowner feels enforcement against them is a result of public advertising.

What makes a secondary suite legal?

For properties in Calgary, if the secondary suite is on the City’s Secondary Suite Registry, it’s legal. The suites on this list have obtained all necessary permits and have been inspected to meet Alberta’s Safety Code requirements.

FYI: Legalizing an illegal suite

If a property in Calgary contains an illegal suite, the City of Calgary’s amnesty period to legalize existing suites has been extended until Dec. 31, 2023.

What this means:

  • Only suites that were built with certain features (e.g., a separate entrance, a separate kitchen and bathroom) prior to March 12, 2018, are eligible to become legalized under the existing legal suite criteria. All other suites are deemed new secondary suites.
  • Certain fees will be waived to legalize an existing suite, such as the development permit and suite registration fee.
  • The City of Calgary continues to enforce illegal suite complaints through investigations. If a suite is illegal and a complaint is lodged resulting in an investigation by the City, the homeowner has two options:
    • Legalize the suite within a certain amount of time; or
    • Remove all traces of the illegal suite, including all kitchen appliances (large and small), as well as kitchen cabinets, etc.
  • Once the amnesty period has ended, all non-registered suites will be considered as a new suite, and different rules will then apply to register the living space as a legal secondary suite.
  • Keep in mind that if a homeowner wishes to legalize an area deemed to be a new (non-existing) suite, the living space must contain a separate heating source (i.e. furnace) from the rest of the home. Other additional criteria may apply.