How to survive having your unauthorized basement suite shut down by the City of Edmonton (part 1)

What to do when the City cracks down on your illegal Edmonton basement suite

Unauthorized basement suites in Edmonton are as common as snow and bad hockey. Most property investors also own at least a few in their portfolios since they really help with cash flow.

The City built a website in the fall of 2018, allowing neighbours to check and see which properties have authorized secondary suites, and which ones are operating legally.

You can find the website here.

As you can probably quickly figure out, most of the thousands of basement suites across the City of Edmonton are illegal. This is all fine and well for landlords, but only until a complaint arises.

Complaints can come from anywhere. A disgruntled tenant, an ex-boyfriend, or even a neighbour who is upset that your tenant keeps parking in front of their house, or that your tenant’s dog keeps pooping on their lawn.

So what happens when you receive a notice from the City of Edmonton regarding your unauthorized basement suite?

Well, first thing is they will send a compliance officer over to your property to take a closer look. Once they determine that you are in fact operating an unauthorized accommodation in your rental property, they will send you a letter advising you of your options.

Option 1- to apply for a development permit. If the suite was built prior to 2006, your permit would fall under the old Alberta Fire Code, not the current building code.

Option 2- To decommission the suite. This includes removing the lock on the suite door, removing the stove or range, and completely removing the 220v plug and breaker from the panel.

What happens if I decommission the Edmonton basement suite?

If you decide to decommission the suite, it’s pretty simple. Do the few simple steps that are required above, and evict the tenants. Keep in mind though, that once you officially decommission the suite, it’s not quite as simple as re-renting it once the smoke clears.

Say you decide to decommission the suite. You remove the lock on the door, and take out the electric range. You evict the tenants, and then decide to re-rent it 3 months later. You move new tenants in, but now the tenants living upstairs get upset with having people living beneath them again, and decide the call the City. Now you’re in big doo-doo. Not only are you going to be potentially fined by the City, now if you decide to ever use that suite again, you have to apply for a development permit with the current building code, instead of the fire code. That means two sources of heat (lot’s of work to install ducting into existing suites), thicker drywall, and the list goes on and on…

If you decide to apply for a development permit, read our next blog post….

If you need some property management advice in the Edmonton or Vancouver markets, please reach out to our property management company here!






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