Basement Suites, In-law suites, Secondary Suites: Real Estate Practice Tip Image

Basement Suites, In-law suites, Secondary Suites: Real Estate Practice Tip


If you work in older communities, chances are you have some experience with buying/selling/leasing secondary suites (defined by the Alberta Government as self-contained living units created within single-family homes).

As more and more Alberta municipalities allow these affordable rental options, the number of secondary suites available in desirable locations has skyrocketed. At the same time, municipalities are cracking down on suites that do not meet the municipality’s standards for secondary suites, making these properties less desirable for those looking to rent or buy, and therefore possibly more difficult to sell or lease.

Real estate professionals working with secondary suite properties should always do their due diligence by:

  • Staying up to date with the zoning or land use bylaws for the area in question
  • Checking the status of the suites with the municipality
  • Being aware of any municipal initiatives regarding secondary suites
  • Disclosing this information to clients, along with the potential consequences of buying/selling/leasing a property with a secondary suite

Keeping yourself up to date ensures your competency as an industry professional. Being knowledgeable will demonstrate value to your clients and show you have their best interests in mind. This elevates both your image as a professional and the image of the industry.

Real estate professionals have a fiduciary duty to use reasonable care and skill in their dealings with clients, and this includes being competent and knowledgeable in areas that could affect a client’s decision to buy, sell, or lease.

Best Practice

Discuss secondary suites with your clients, including their comfort level with so-called “illegal” suites, allowing them to make an informed decision. If you find properties for them to consider that have secondary suites, you must do your due diligence and disclose the status of the suite (i.e. if it is registered with the municipality, not registered, or requires work to meet the standard of the municipality).

Read more about secondary suites, including how to advertise them and what you have to disclose.