Edmonton’s secondary suite grant was launched to provide funding for property owners so that they can upgrade existing suites or build new suites, specifically for renting to low-income city residents who are eligible.
The popular program is funded by Edmonton’s Affordable Housing Investment Plan and it has made a major difference to Edmonton for the lower-income residents.
What Is A Secondary Suite?
The city of Edmonton defines a secondary suite, as a separate dwelling created from a single property. It could be a detached, semi-detached, or row house, what’s important is that the secondary suite has it’s own living, cooking, sleeping and sanitary facilities. So there’s no shared living space.
In many cases, it’s a basement or part of the house partitioned into a separate space, with a separate entrance created so you wouldn’t need to access or use the principle dwelling.
There are some exceptions, most notably with apartments, and with homes that have already been converted into residential businesses, such as a boarding house, or lodging house. They would not receive the grant.
What Is The Secondary Suite Grant Program?
The secondary suite grant will pay up to $20,000 to match the money you spend to create new Secondary Suites (or renovating existing suites) as long as they comply with all the relevant health and safety standards. The goal is to provide an incentive to landlords to create affordable housing, with a great ROI on their investment.
As you can imagine, there are hoops to jump through, things you need to consider include:
- The primary residence must be privately owned and be occupied by the owner.
- The city has zones that are predominately made up of detached, semi-detached, duplex and row houses, these are the locations that allow second suites but if you’re unsure you can always ask the Development Officer at the Service Centre, who will be happy to assist.
- You agree to rent the suite out only to renters who fall into a specific income bracket (Remember, this grant is in place to increase low-income housing).
- Any landowner who sells the property within 5 years will be required to pay the grant back.
What’ is really important when applying for the secondary suite grant program is that you meet the health and safety regulations. The city of Edmonton wants good quality low-income accommodation.
The Process Of Getting The Grant
To be able to apply for the Edmonton secondary suite grant, you start by ensuring zoning is allowed. If you’re not located in the right area of the city, then it’s a non-starter.
Once you’ve got zoning permission, the next step differs depending on whether it’s a new build or not. If it’s a new build, you’ll need to get yourself development and a building permit. During this process, you may need to provide a floor plan of the suite to be built.
Depending on the complexity of the plans, you can either create them yourself or you can hire a draftsperson to help. If you’re building a garage suite, you’ll definitely be required to provide some structural information, so you should look at getting support from a structural engineer.
That is what you need to consider If you’re building the garage yourself. Otherwise, if your contractor is from the city, they are most likely used to the grants process and would have helped applicants make their properties ready for the city inspectors in the past.
Your plan will be expected to include an array of information that includes:
- Exact window sizes
- Door spaces
- Floor spaces
- Where the heating system be
The process for applying for the grant program to renovate an existing secondary suite is a little different.
One of the first steps is to request an inspection of your property. Then, a full team will turn up and inspect every element of the suite that you plan to make available for tenants.
They’ll provide you with a letter that confirms that you have a secondary suite on the premises, then later a report of the inspection where all deficiencies will be listed.
The letter and the report will be required when applying for the Development Permit. Once you have that, you have everything you need to apply for the secondary suite grant program.
Suite Permits Explained
Depending on the project, you could require both a development and a building permit. It’s also important to note that it is necessary to get separate permits for heating and ventilation, plumbing, gas, and electrical work.
If you can, you need to have someone involved in the project who understands the permit process. It’s pretty important because, for example, with heating and ventilation, plumbing, gas or electrical systems, they will not be specifically reviewed before the relevant permit is issued but will be inspected separately at different stages of the project.
Understanding the process for different elements of the project is essential. You need to know when you should request inspections, you need to refer to building permit conditions to get this info.
Who Can Apply For A Permit?
You need a certified contractor to apply for heating and ventilation, plumbing, gas, and electrical permits, specifically when the home shares any wall or floor/ceiling with a neighbour.
Homeowners can apply for permits if they live in a detached house. You can get homeowner heating and ventilation, plumbing, gas, and electrical permit in that case.
Secondary Suite Eligible Tenant Criteria
The criteria for getting the secondary suites grant program, and not having to repay it, is simple, yet specific.
You need to ensure your secondary suite has a resident earning within the restrictions set out in the grant funding terms for secondary suites. The eligibility requirements are:
You must rent secondary suites to an eligible tenant earning within (Jan to Dec 2020) :
- One Person $37,701
- Two Persons $57,237
- Three Persons $61,706
- Four Persons $73,861
- Five Persons (or more) $77,570