Thursday, July 30, 2009

West Vancouver Secondary Suites Approved - West Van Basement Suites Now Legal - Licenses Available Early 2010!

West Vancouver Secondary Suites APPROVED!

Legalization of West Van secondary suites is expected to have full approval by early 2010 says Sarah of the North Shore News. The amendment and the zoning bylaws were passed in December 2009 for the second and third readings at West Vancouver City Council meetings but a decision on when the issuing of secondary suite permits was tabled until early in the new year. The director of planning for West Vancouver real estate, Bob, mentioned that the lands and permits license of West Vancouver secondary suites approval will be about six hundred and fifteen dollars ($615) for the first license fee, and then $465 or four hundred and sixty fivedollars for a renewal if the increased city costs are not covered by the initial fee. Because of the West Van secondary suite licensing fee, some councillors are wary that home owners may not apply for these fees, and therefore operate or continue to rent out illegal suites for rent. Some say that this tax grab by the city will deter a lot of people from renting or renovating their homes to accommodate new West Vancouver secondary suites, which is likely going to help affordability as well as the tight rental market in the city. The approximate increase in municipal services for 1.5 residents per secondary suites is only an additional $600 per year. However, the higher property taxes on homes with West Vancouver secondary suites will account for about only three hundred and ninety five dollars increase per year. Therefore, some balance must be met in order for all parties to benefit from the approval of the secondary basements suites in West Van real estate. Some Councillors however indicate that the license fees should be even greater as it is more of a business for home owners to benefit from and therefore, should not be burdened on other people living in the city. In many ways, expenses such as license fees for West Van secondary basement suites will be passed on to the tenant in the form of higher rental amounts, argues other Councillors. The approval of secondary suites will be made available early next year for any West Vancouver single family detached home or even duplex home. In addition, some of the provisions or regulations surrounding these basements suites have further been changed so that the secondary suite’s entrance does not need to face the same direction of the main home. However, the legal West Vancouver secondary suite must have its own private entrance. In addition, home owners can rent one of their two existing parking spots to the tenant of the basement or secondary suite, so they only need a minimum of 2 secured parking spots for their entire lot. For those home owners who break any of the rules and regulations of the West Vancouver secondary suite process will be fined three hundred dollars ($300) per day for operating an illegal suite. That’s a hefty price to pay when considering the license fee is only $615 (subject to change) per year.

The City of West Vancovuer Moves to Legalizing Secondary Suites

If you own a home in West Vancouver real estate market, legal secondary suites may be approved very soon. According to various news outlets, West Vancouver is one of three cities in the Lower Mainland regional district that doesn’t allow the rental of secondary suites in homes according to the district’s director of planning, lands and permits, but may be moving towards approving legal West Vancouver secondary suites. Currently, there are approximately six hundred to three thousand illiegal secondary suites in operation in the West Vancouver rental market and the city hopes to address these issues by contemplating and formulating some bylaws that will see the legalization of suites. Currently, West Vancouver bylaws only allow for secondary suites in homes if they are occupied by family members of the owners, and with Delta, the West Vancouver bylaws was recently ruled as discriminatory according to the Supreme Court of BC, a major issue amongst a few municipalities currently. Currently, the West Vancouver council is looking to legalize West Van secondary suites only if they are self contained and attached to the primary residence. In addition, the proposed bylaw that will allow for West Van legal secondary suites will limit one unit per lot. The latest survey of West Vancouver district residents have shown that the majority of people in the city actually approve and support the legalization of secondary suites in the city and will also pull more tax dollars to the city every year. According to West Vancouver council, a Victoria secondary suite study found that a home with a legal secondary suite will up its property value by $40 to $60k in value and that would cost about $105 per home in property taxes per year. The West Vancouver legal secondary suites will have to be smaller than 30 per cent of the total floor space of the home though and will only be legal if the primary home owner is living there too. The West Van secondary legal suites will not be given separate title or metered water, hydro or cable service and the parking requirements include 1 off-street parking space or garage. The secondary suite will also need a separate entranc that doesn’t face the same way as the primary house entrance.

The Next Steps for West Van Legal Suites

A West Vancouver town hall meeting is being scheduled to review the draft of the legalization of secondary suites in West Van later in the fall. The draft will become available to the general public for review at

Legal Secondary Suites in West Vancouver Rental Market – Will It Be a Go?

From the North Shore News in August 2009 – The City of West Vancouver is planning on initiating talks regarding the legalization of secondary suites in West Vancouver homes to increase the rental housing stock in the city. Secondary suites could be legal by the end of the year, if the current recommendation is passed by the District staff this week and is passed by city council. A new housing bylaw, would allow a separate living space for non family members within an existing West Vancouver home and will b a legal secondary suite or basement suite for rent. There is currently a city bylaw that prevents West Van secondary suites, so it is currently illegal for a home owner to rent out their basement or extra suite to a non family member. Recommended for both the West Vancouver draft strategic plan in addition to the business plan, it is estimated that there are currently almost three thousand illegal West Vancouver secondary suites that are rented out right now. By legalizing basement/secondary suites in West Van rental market, there will be more choice for renters as more current home owners will take the steps to finishing their basements and renting out extra space. These so called mortgage helpers will also allow a new influx of young families into this aging population in West Vancouver, as the renters of the legal West Van secondary suites can help them pay down their mortgage, or make them more manageable at least. In addition, the legalization of the West Vancouver secondary suites and basement units will also allow the city to shut down current sub-standard suites in addition to adding an alternative income source for West Van homeowners. The low income housing and more affordable basements suites will add to the very restrictive and tight West Van suite rental market and the vacancy levels will go up a bit and become more ‘normal’. In addition, the legal West Van secondary suites will allow home owners to get some passive income sources as well through the rental of their basement units. Currently, the City of West Vancouver only allows in law suites for relatives where home owners are living in the primary residence. Legally back in 1997, the Supreme Court of B.C. actually ruled against a regulation that restricted who can and who cannot occupy a home/residence, and that is being tested through the process of legalizing West Vancouver secondary basement suites at this time.

The West Vancouver Legal Secondary Suite Requirements

The West Van homeowners or landlords will be only able to rent out a single suite per lot and must be less than nine hundred and sixty eight square feet (968 sq ft) and cannot take up more than thirty per cent (30%) of the total West Vancouver property lot area. In addition to these suite size requirements by the City of West Vancouver bylaws, the legal secondary/basement suites much actually be a separate living space that is private for the resident in addition to having a separate washroom, separate cooking area (can be full kitchen or kitchenette) as well as a separate entrance. The legalized West Van secondary basement suite must also have its own entry way in addition to one off-street parking spot reserved for the renter. The current illegal basement suites operating in West Vancouver rental market will be asked to apply for the appropriate permits that are part of the new requirement for secondary suites in addition to making sure that their rental units meet all safety standards as indicated by this new housing bylaw. Some councillors are unsure about the legalization of the secondary suites in West Vancouver rental market as the new influx in population and people migrating into the city will actually not be contributing in the way of property taxes, but will be exhausting some of the conveniences, parks, schools, and other city amenities during their time renting in the city. However, other councillors indicate that the increase population caused by the legalization of the West Van secondary suites is on par with an increase in electricity, power and water, that the current homeowners and new renters will be paying. In addition, the value of the West Van homes with secondary suites or basement units for rent is typically higher than those that don’t have this secondary source of income, which obviously results in higher property taxes to the current home owners. There have been two public studies done in West Vancouver regarding the legalization of secondary suites in the city, and both polls have been overly positive in favour of the legal basement suite bylaw change. Approximately ¾ or seventy five per cent of people interviewed actually agreed with the housing bylaw change for legal West van secondary suites during both pools. The City of West Vancouver has also pointed out that in the Lower Mainland area, only Pitt Meadows, Bowen Island, Langley and West Van do not permit any sort of legal secondary suites at this time. The proposed housing bylaw is going to council October 26, 2009 and if it is a go, it can be passed by the end of the year.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home