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Airbnb Hosting With Legal Secondary Suites

Airbnb Hosting With Legal Secondary Suites

Today we have a guest post from the expert in secondary suites, Andy Tran from And, fortunately for us, he has applied his expertise to the sharing economy in the below article. Have you considered adding a secondary suite to your home? If so, this article is for you.

Airbnb Secondary Suites

Whenever you search for a place to stay in Airbnb, you’re usually greeted with 3 options for the type of accommodations you need:

  • A shared room
  • A private room
  • The entire home/apartment

The “entire home” option, usually means an entire house, condo apartment, castle, boathouse, etc. But one type you might not have considered is a secondary suite of a house. Secondary suites are a great option to rent out as an “entire place” on Airbnb without actually having to use up the whole property. Instead, you’d be using a portion of a home – possibly your own.

You can also have single property with two separate apartments where you can host two separate guests at the same time. Using this strategy can significantly reduce your overhead costs.

What are secondary suites?

Secondary suites (also referred to as accessory suites, granny-suites, in-law suites) are fully functional self-contained units that are derived from homes originally built as single-family, most often detached and semi-detached properties. They contain their own living, dining, and bedroom(s), as well as kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities. The majority of secondary suites are basement apartments.

Airbnb Secondary Suites 2.jpg

 Cooking facilities (kitchen) is a defining feature of a secondary suite

Why do they make sense in the sharing economy?

The sharing economy is commonly defined as taking underutilized assets that are owned by someone and placing them in the marketplace using one of the many online platforms now available. One of the biggest underutilized assets is the basement of many homeowners, which can often be easily converted to a secondary suite that can be rented out.

Why is it important that they are legal?

It is important that secondary suites are legal since that will mean they have been built with permits, and meets the local building code and zoning by-law requirements. This ensures that they are done correctly and are safe for guests. You will be in good standing with your city, lender and insurer.

Additionally, the value of your property will likely be higher when you sell, since you can prove that the suite was done properly.

How legal secondary suites can help drive the sharing economy narrative?

One other reason why it’s important that secondary suites are legal is because it helps counter the opposition of the sharing economy, particularly Airbnb.

Those who are against Airbnb typically use the argument that homeowners aren’t subject to the same licensing, taxes and regulations as traditional hospitality providers. This might include fire safety measures. By creating a secondary suite legally with permits, you ensure that the unit complies with all fire safety requirement, as well as all property and occupancy standards.

Airbnb Secondary Suites 3

Fire safety is the most important aspect of secondary suites

As long as you pay your taxes like the hotels do and register with the city, opponents really cannot use that argument any longer.

What are the best types of properties for secondary suites?

The best types of properties for secondary suites are larger homes or course. Bigger homes have the space required by the building code. You want to have higher ceilings and large windows, both for fire safety and natural lighting. You also want to have adequate parking for both units of the property.

Detached bungalows and split-level type houses are the most ideal for secondary suite additions, since they typically have a large footprint in the main unit, and so the basement will have a similarly sized footprint.

When designing your secondary suite, it’s important to make them look bright and spacious, like a modern new condo, instead of a dingy old basement apartment.

Airbnb Secondary Suites 4

What can you do right now to take advantage of secondary suites for Airbnb?

If you already own a home, see if it might be large enough to divide up into two separate units. You can get more information from your municipal building department website. Simple Google your city name and “secondary suite” or “accessory suite”. You can also enlist the help of a licensed designer, architect or engineer who has experience producing permit drawings for secondary suites.

If you don’t own a home yet, but are looking to purchase, provision for the possibility of adding a secondary suite. Even if you don’t add it, having that option will be great if you ever need some extra income later on.

Andy Tran: Andy is consultant and designer of legal secondary suites. His focus is helping homeowners and investors construct suites that are safe, healthy and comfortable for anyone to live in. He has been through the process many times for himself and clients. If you go to his website at, you can get more information and also download a copy of his new ebook Legal 2nd Suites – A Beginner’s Guide to learn how you can take advantage of this strategy to build wealth.

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