Requirements for Income Suites in Edmonton

October 26, 2023

Requirements for Income Suites in Edmonton - Featured Image

Many people looking to invest in property in Edmonton have been drawn to the option of legal income suites. Typically, these are basement suites, above-garage suites, or separate building structures in the backyard called garden suites. There’s such a large demand for these types of rental units, there are even grants to help Edmonton homeowners build a suite or renovate an old one.

If you choose to build your home with Sterling, we can include an income suite in the design of your brand-new home. Since adding an income suite can also help you qualify for a mortgage, this can make the home you want more affordable.

In this article, we’ll discuss the legal requirements for income suites in Edmonton, as well as the differences between an in-law suite and a legal suite. With this information, you can make an informed decision when it comes to finding the perfect income suite for your needs.

Legal Basement Suite Requirements in Edmonton

When it comes to legal basement suite requirements, Edmonton has a few rules in place to ensure the safety and comfort of both the tenants and homeowners. These guidelines are outlined in the City of Edmonton Zoning Bylaw 12800.

Firstly, a legal basement suite can only be located within a single-family dwelling, semi-detached house, or duplex. You’ll need a building permit, and the lot size must also adhere to specific requirements, including a minimum lot width of 10 meters and a minimum total area of 300 square meters.

In terms of safety regulations, whether you’re creating a brand-new basement suite in a new-build home or you’re renovating an existing basement, your basement suite must have its own separate entrance from the main dwelling unit, as well as at least one window for proper ventilation and emergency exit purposes. The ceiling height must also be at least 1.95 meters and the basement suite must have its own separate heating system.

Additionally, all legal basement suites in Edmonton must be registered with the city and must undergo an inspection to ensure they meet all safety requirements before being rented out. This ensures that both tenants and homeowners are protected from any potential hazards.

Inlaw Suite

In-law Suite vs Legal Suite

It’s important to note the difference between an in-law suite and a legal secondary suite in Edmonton. While both may provide rental income, an in-law suite is typically an unregistered living space within a primary residence that is used for family members or friends, rather than as a separate rental unit.

On the other hand, a legal secondary suite (either brand-new or a renovation of an existing secondary suite) must adhere to all of the requirements. It must also be registered with the city to be considered a legal income secondary suite. This designation provides added protection for both tenants and landlords, ensuring that the property is up to code and safe for occupancy.

Garage Suites

Garage Suites and Garden Suites

Garage suites and garden suites in Edmonton offer additional options for homeowners looking to generate rental income, while also fulfilling residential density objectives outlined by the city. Both types of suites are similar in nature; they are self-contained living spaces located on the same property as a single detached home. They must receive a building permit, be registered with the city and meet all safety requirements to be considered legal income suites.

Garage Suites

Garage suites, also known as above-garage suites or carriage houses, are situated above or attached to a detached garage in the backyard of a property. They are a popular choice for homeowners as they provide a separate, distinct living space that does not infringe upon the privacy of the main house.

In terms of legal requirements, Edmonton’s Garage Suite regulations mandate that the garage suite must not exceed the height of the main dwelling and must be less than or equal to 40% of the total site area. Garage suites must follow the same safety and building code regulations as basement suites, including having a separate entrance, meeting ventilation and heating standards, and having appropriate emergency exit options.

Garden Suites

Garden suites, on the other hand, are standalone structures situated in the backyard of a property. They offer more flexibility in terms of design and can be custom-built to cater to specific tenant needs. They provide a separate, private living space that is detached from the main house, offering tenants a unique blend of urban living with a touch of nature.

Edmonton’s Garden Suite regulations specify that these units must not exceed 8.6 meters in height and must comply with certain setbacks to maintain the aesthetic and harmony of the neighbourhood. They must also adhere to the same safety regulations as other secondary suites, and be registered and inspected by the city.

Both garage and garden suites provide excellent opportunities for homeowners in Edmonton to invest in their properties, generate income, and contribute to the city’s goals for increased residential density.

Fire Safety

Fire Safety Requirements

When it comes to fire safety, all legal secondary suites in Edmonton must adhere to the Alberta Fire Code, which outlines specific requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These devices must be installed on each floor of the suite, as well as within each bedroom.

Additionally, any new construction or renovation that includes an income suite must also follow building code requirements for fire separation between units. This helps prevent the spread of fire and provides added protection for both tenants and homeowners.

Parking Requirements

For a secondary suite to be approved, there must also be sufficient parking available on the property. According to the City of Edmonton Zoning Bylaw, each secondary suite must have one off-street parking space and an additional space for every two bedrooms in the unit.

This requirement ensures that there is enough parking for both tenants and homeowners, as well as any potential guests. It also helps alleviate any potential parking issues in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Grant Requirements


Originally published August 20, 2018, updated October 26, 2023.

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About the Author:

At Sterling Homes, our mission is to provide the opportunity for affordable homeownership without compromise. Over the last 70 years, Sterling Edmonton has quickly become one of Edmonton’s most popular builders. We bring more than seven decades worth of exceptional customer service, superior design and unparalleled craftsmanship to the greater Edmonton area. As a member of the Qualico Group, Sterling Homes focuses on greater Edmonton’s finest family communities, while being able to offer some of the region’s most family friendly prices thanks to volume purchasing power for materials, trades and land. This has not only made Sterling one of Edmonton’s bestselling, move-up builders, but also one of the industry’s most respected home providers. It is through our uncompromising commitment to our customers that we proudly deliver the Sterling Advantage – that’s why each and every home we build includes a 10-year home warranty, a completion guarantee and new home warranty excellence rating. Our Advantage is our pledge that, when you build your dream home with Sterling, we will deliver a timely, well-built home you’re sure to enjoy for years to come.

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