Retiring, but need more income? Concerned about the housing options for your parents who are retiring? Want to offer a separate suite for your grown children, rather than having them live with you? In any case, the answer might be to acquire property with an income suite. Throughout Canada, homes with “secondary suites” offer income potential for landlords and excellent housing opportunities for occupants.
Defining A “Secondary Suite”
A secondary suite, which may be located in the basement or adjacent to the home, may be called a granny flat, in law suite, accessory apartment, or second unit. Regardless of nomenclature, a secondary suite has a separate entrance, bathroom, kitchen, and bedrooms and living areas, while sharing parking, yard, laundry, storage space, and even a hallway with the remainder of the home.
Having a secondary suite offers several advantages.
- By renting out either the main part of the house or the apartment unit, you gain monthly income that can help subsidize your mortgage.
- It allows you to provide for aging parents or grown children who have not yet left the nest.
- If you travel frequently, the tenants can watch over the property.
- If your tenants take care of the lawn or do other duties in exchange for reduced rent, you can eliminate the hassle of finding the help you need to maintain property. As a retiree,
As a retiree, any of these advantages can help you stretch a retirement income, whether you need to meet the basics or to finance other goals such as travel.
Are Income Suites Legal?
Throughout Canada, income units have popped up in what was originally single family property. Unfortunately, not all of these secondary units are legal. Throughout Halifax, and in many other municipalities throughout Canada, municipal zoning requirements may or may not authorize multiple units; they also have zoning requirements that determine what is required to make the secondary apartment legal.
In Halifax, municipal zoning is handled by the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), which is actually 21 (currently) separate community plan areas, each of which has one or more land-use bylaws that speaks to the zoning for secondary apartments. Whether you are looking to convert part of your home to a secondary apartment or you are planning to buy property with an income suite to supplement your income, you need to find out the pertinent bylaws for the zone where the property is located.
The essence of a secondary dwelling is that it could be occupied by a separate household which is “an independent and separate housekeeping establishment” even if the separate household is constituted by your parent or child. Some areas are listed as single-family dwelling zones (R-1), which in some areas can be occupied by people related by marriage, cohabitation, blood or adoption, domestic servants, non-paying guests, foster children, and up to three roomers or borders. Having an income suite would violate the law. However, in some areas of Halifax, even an R-1 property can include a self-contained dwelling unit without violating the law.
Plan In Advance For An In law Suite
Although the concept of “asking forgiveness, not permission” works in some cases, violating municipal zoning laws is not one of them. If the applicable HRM prohibits income units or in law suites, the city can order you as a landlord to restore a converted property to its original permitted use by, for example, removing the second kitchen or creating access between separate growing units. In addition, they can prohibit you as a landlord from receiving income from the rental unit.
In some cases, your lawyer can appeal for a change in the zoning or can seek a determination that your land use was grandfathered by previous law, but the process is time consuming and costly.
Call Me If You Want Property With A Secondary Apartment
If you want to supplement your retirement income with rent, your best bet is to look at properties where the zoning permits income suites. Renovating a single-family home to include income suite may not be legal. Call me to see properties throughout the area that offer you the income potential of legal secondary apartment as well as the other qualities you see in a retirement home.
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Roy Thomas SRES is a Senior’s Real Estate Specialist and a REALTOR® with Sutton Group-Professional Realty. Licensed since 1991, much of Roy’s practice is helping retirees with their later in life moves. Roy can be reached at 902-497-3031, by email: RoyThomas@RoyThomas.ca or read other articles online at www.HalifaxSeniorLiving.ca
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|Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991 Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. If you are contemplating a move and would like a complimentary copy of Roy’s guide to downsizing entitled “Preparing to Downsize” please click here|