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Buying and selling your home

Important terms

Real Property Report: A document prepared by an Alberta land surveyor which shows the location of buildings and other structures on a property.

Certificate of Compliance: A stamp on a Real Property Report ​confirming that building locations on a property comply with the Land Use Bylaw.

Private encroachment: Any portion of a building, fence, driveway, retaining wall or other structure which extends onto an adjacent private property.

City encroachment: Any portion of a building, fence, driveway, retaining wall or other structure which extends onto City property.

What to consider when buying or selling your property

There are important considerations when purchasing or selling residential property. A Cert​​ificate of Compliance is a common requirement set out by lending agencies or lawyers in the sale of a property. When looking to purchase a property, it is advisable to inquire if permits and inspections were completed on previous renovations. If you are selling your property, it may be in your interest to verify that all permits and inspections on previous work have been completed, as this may cause a hold up in the sale of the property.

What is a Certificate of Compliance?

A Certificate of Compliance is a confirmation from The City of Calgary that the locations of structures on a property comply with the Land Use Bylaw. This is confirmed on a Real Property Report prepared by an Alberta land surveyor. It does not regulate or enforce any building code requirements or serve as a confirmation of permit history on a property.

A Certificate of Compliance is not a comprehensive bylaw review. The following items are not reviewed for compliance:

  • Fences*
  • Retaining walls*
  • Driveway width
  • Parcel coverage
  • Building height
  • Accessory residential buildings less than 10 m2 (sheds, pergolas, etc.)*
  • Alberta Building Code requirements

*All built structures will be reviewed for encroachments onto City property.

A Certificate of Compliance is usually required by lending agencies or lawyers in the sale of a property and/or mortgage approval to protect their clients' investments. Standard real estate purchase contracts often require the vendor to obtain a compliance certificate. A Certificate of Compliance is not a legislative requirement, but rather a service provided by The City of Calgary. The City does not require you to get a compliance certificate.

Application requirements

You are required to submit:

  1. A minimum of two copies of a signed Real Property Report
  2. A copy of the Registered City Encroachment Agreement (if applicable)
  3. A copy of the Registered Private Encroachment Agreement (if applicable)
  4. Applicable fees

The Real Property Report should be an accurate reflection of the current state of the site, showing all structures (i.e. houses, decks, sheds, fences, retaining walls, window wells, A/C units, etc.) located on the property. Consider the following points before submitting your application for compliance:

  • A Real Property Report can only be updated by an Alberta land surveyor and must be signed and dated.
  • A Real Property Report stating "under construction" or "foundation only" can only be accepted if it is submitted within 12 months of the date of the survey.
  • Altered Real Property Reports, unclear plans and plot plans will not be accepted.
  • Applicants are responsible for providing proper documentation with each application. The City does not provide information on previous submissions. Due to copyright laws, The City cannot provide copies of surveys.
  • A stamp of compliance will not be granted if there is a private encroachment, unless a copy of the registered private encroachment is submitted.
  • Real Property Reports showing encroachment onto City-owned land or City right-of-ways will receive an encroachment stamp. Contact 311 to place a request with Calgary Real Estate & Development Services (formerly Corporate Properties). An encroachment agreement may be required.

Application processing and timelines

  • If an application for a low density residential compliance is mailed in, or if further review is required (i.e. a development permit needs to be ordered from storage or information is required from the surveyor/owner/lawyer), processing time is approximately five to 10 business days.
  • If an application for a low density residential compliance is submitted in person, compliance may be granted instantaneously, if further review is not required.
  • Low density residential compliances cannot be expedited. However, if the applicant has an approved, stamped set of development permit plans, they may bring in the plans with the Real Property Report to reduce processing time.
  • If the property is multi-residential, commercial or industrial, the application can be expedited to seven calendar days. Please see the fee schedule for the price of an expedited compliance. Non-expedited commercial compliances will be completed within 14 days after application.
  • If the existing development complies with the Land Use Bylaw, compliance will be granted and the applicant will be notified that the Certificate of Compliance is ready. If the application has not been picked up within 10 business days, the application will be mailed to the customer.
Compliance type Timeline for completion
Low density residential (no review required) Instant
Low density residential (review required) 7 - 14 calendar days
Commercial/industrial/multi-residential (review required) 14 calendar days
Commercial/industrial/multi-residential (expedited review) 7 calendar days

Refused compliances – what are my options?

A Real Property Report that shows structures that are non-compliant with the Land Use Bylaw will result in a refused compliance. When this occurs, consider the following:

Remove the non-compliant structure

If the non-compliant structure is a minor issue, it may be easiest to remove the offending structure. This option depends on the feasibility of removing the structure and the importance of that structure to the sale. If a structure is removed and the survey is updated to reflect the change, submit the update within six months of the original and  compliance fees will be waived.

Apply for a relaxation

A development permit for relaxation of Land Use Bylaw rules is another option. After the refusal, the applicant submits color pictures of the non-compliant structure, along with a current land title, the Real Property Report and the applicable fee. See the requirements list for relaxation of an existing structure. Relaxations are not guaranteed, as they are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Every relaxation presents unique variables and impacts on the surrounding community. Affected parties have an opportunity to provide input.

Compliance is not always required

Sales, leases and other agreements often require a Certificate of Compliance for the protection of interested parties, but this is done as a private condition between those groups. The City of Calgary offers compliance as a service only, and does not intervene in private transactions.

Even if a non-compliant structure existed before you owned the property, it may still impede compliance. Real property reports represent the property at the time of survey.

How and where to apply

If you need a Real Property Report or Survey Plan, or need one updated, employ a registered Alberta land surveyor (Alberta Land Surveyors' Association). There is a charge for this service and you are advised to shop around, as rates vary. The City cannot recommend or endorse any private surveying companies.

Online applications can be made by going to the CITYonline application form.

For more information, please see the CITYonline application instructions.

Applications can be made in person or dropped off between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Completed applications can be picked up during the same hours.

The City of Calgary
Planning Service Centre
Third floor, Calgary Municipal Building
800 Macleod Trail S.E.​

Save time when applying by pre-booking an appointment using eAppointment.

By mail, send the application requirements and fee to:

The City of Calgary
ATTN: Mail-ins
PO Box 2100, Station M (#8108)
Calgary, Alberta T2P 2M5​​​​​​​​

Home inspections

A third-party home inspection is conducted by a private company not affiliated with The City. This inspection is typically requested by the prospective home buyer and is an overall non-invasive inspection to determine the condition of the house.

While a third-party home inspection may reveal information that is valuable in making your decision to purchase a property, it does not ensure there are no hidden issues. A non-invasive inspection may not determine the condition of any work which is concealed.

 A proper permit application must be made, for the City to perform a inspection. Please visit calgary.ca/inspections for more information.

What to ask your third party home inspector

  • Grading: Is the grade around my entire home sloped away from my foundation walls and window wells?
  • Smoke alarms: How do I test the smoke detector?
  • Ventilation: What is a ventilation switch? Should it be on or off? How does it work with the heating system?
  • Furnace: Where is the disconnect breaker or switch located for the furnace?
  • Water: Where is the main water shut off?
  • Electrical: Where is the electrical panel? How do I turn breakers on and off and how do I reset them?
  • Detectors: Where are the smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, arc fault circuit interrupters and ground fault circuit interrupters? Where are the instruction manuals that are provided with these devices?
  • Eavestroughs: Are the eavestrough down spouts connected and directed away from my home and not towards my neighbour?

Information on previous improvements made to a property

If you are looking for information on work done to a property, you can contact the Planning Services Centre to find out the types of permits, the scope of work and the result of inspections. If you are looking to obtain plans previously submitted to The City for permits, you can submit a request to our Property Research department through 311.

Work previously completed without permits can be inspected by The City, if the proper permits are obtained. The building permit application can be submitted by the homeowner. The applicant must provide the same requirements as a application for new work. This process may require framing concealed by drywall to be exposed for the purpose of the inpsection.

For trade permits (electrical, plumbing, gas, heating, ventilation and air conditioning), follow the proper procedure on work concealed by drywall. A homeowner’s permit cannot be issued for work that has been done without proper permits. To have the inspection completed, the owner must hire a registered, licensed trade contractor. The contractor will have to obtain the specific permit and check that the work complies with applicable codes. However, the homeowner is still ultimately responsible for any previously concealed work.

Please visit calgary.ca/homeimprovement​ to view information on each individual project type and its requirements.

Note: There is a possibility the inspector may ask for drywall to be removed to complete their inspection. For further inquiries, please contact our Technical Assistance Centre through 311.

Risks when​​ a permit is not obtained

If you, as a homeowner or contractor, do not have permits for work that has been started or completed, there could be consequences if you do not take action to correct the situation, such as:

  • Enforcement action issued by a City inspector.
  • A fine for building without a permit.
  • Having to undo work that has been completed.
  • Future legal and financial issues when selling your property or making an insurance claim.
  • Having to do more work than was originally planned and budgeted.

Note: As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying any penalties, even if you hired a contractor who assured you permits were not needed. If you are unsure if you need a permit, call the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311. Find out if your contractor has a City of Calgary business license with our Licensed Trade Contractor List.

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