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Bylaw allows offices to easily convert to residential real estate

In today's property market, investors and home buyers are using creative solutions to find great places to live and lease. In Calgary, Alberta, bylaws have now changed to allow landlords to convert office buildings into residential real estate. This has prompted the repurposing of four downtown Calgary offices into residential buildings, as well as plans to convert a surplus office land site into a 300-unit development near Stampede Station.

In June, Land Use Bylaws were amended to ease the application process of changing office spaces into residential real estate. The bylaws were changed in order to give landlords greater flexibility after downtown office vacancy hit 25 per cent. Where landlords previously needed a development permit to lease a property to residents, a building permit is now the only requirement.

Alberta real estate investment companies have chosen to benefit from this shift. One investment firm says their office space vacancy rate in Calgary is 5.5 per cent higher than the rest of Canada. They hope that opening up properties to residential tenants will increase demand for their properties, as downtown Calgary is developing to be more suitable for residents and workers alike.

Bylaw changes can have major consequences for those seeking to buy and sell residential real estate. Proper understanding of Alberta legal standards is important for anyone buying, selling, or leasing a property, especially if they are making a major change such as converting an office spare to residential real estate. A lawyer can help people on either side of a real estate transaction understand these regulations.

Source: The Globe and Mail, "Calgary landlords converting office spaces for residential use", Sharon Crowther, Aug. 18, 2017

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