Legal Suites

Legal Suites: A Homeowners Guide

Are you a homeowner and have always had the thought that it would be helpful to have extra income to help offset your mortgage? Do you have kids who need their own space or older parents who want to move in but cannot afford their own space? Have you thought of downsizing but wouldn’t like to leave your neighborhood? Well, these are few of the many reasons why you should consider a legal suite in your home, as a separate dwelling in the backyard or above your detached garage.

What is a Legal Suite?

A legal suite, also known as a secondary suite, garage suite, carriage house or garden suite is a self-contained living space that is located on your same property but as a single detached house. It possesses a separate entrance, and individual bathroom, sleeping and cooking facilities. Compared to a duplex, a legal suite has the benefit of flexibility in terms of its placement on the property and should be smaller than your main dwelling. A legal suite is normally part of your property and cannot be divided or separated from it. In most cases, this is a residential unit that you’re in charge of, so you can choose to live in it yourself, rent it, let your parents or kids move in – but cannot be sold.

Benefits of Legal Suites

Providing housing is rapidly growing challenge in almost all cities in the United States. The limited supply of rental housing coupled with the high cost of new housing implies that people have minimal options when selecting a place to live. The economy has been unstable, our environment is threatened, and the population is aging. All these factors contribute to the need for alternative housing models that are sustainable and affordable. Legal suites offer excellent housing options and can be beneficial to homeowners and tenants as well.


Legal suites make home ownership more affordable by generating supplementary income to aid in covering mortgage costs. Purchasing a home with a suite that you can rent out will help a family afford a home in which they can grow into. And as homeowners age, their income reduces and they do not require as much space. Renting out a legal suite or moving into the suite so as to rent out the major floors helps provide affordable accommodation.


Often ground-oriented and mostly located in residential neighborhoods that are near parks, schools, and other kinds of amenities, legal suites tend to appeal to families, students, people with pets and tenants who are looking for an alternative to living in apartments. Having unrestricted access to a yard can be beneficial for people living with their kids or pets. In most cases, legal suites tend to have lower rental rates as compared to houses, duplexes or townhouses.

However, before you can get down to develop your legal suite, you need to find out whether:

• Legal suites are allowed on your property

• Your piece of property is large enough

• You can adhere to all the necessary building code standards

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