In an effort to encourage the legalization of rental suites in Lake Country, the District is asking homeowners to register their existing secondary and accessory suites by April 30. Those residents who meet the deadline stand to save themselves some money.
When council adopted the District’s current zoning bylaw last year, one issue that was discussed was the provision of affordable housing in the community. Permitting rental suites was one option that was approved to help fill that need. All suites, regardless of whether or not they are occupied, need to be registered with the District.
To legalize an existing suite, residents need to apply for a certificate of registration at the municipal hall. Suites built prior to April 9, 2009 require no application fee and will be subjected to a basic safety inspection if the application is made before April 30.
Homeowners wishing to register a suite after April 30 will be required to obtain a building permit and adhere to the B.C. Building Code in the construction of their suite. The District advises that meeting standard building code requirements could result in costly alterations to the suite.
After a suite has been registered the owner is required to pay utilities for the dwelling if it is on municipal water and sewer. The rates are 40 per cent of the home’s annual user fees, which works out annually to $195 for water and $100 for sewer.
Suites that are not connected to municipal water, must provide evidence that they are able to be serviced. For those on private water systems a letter from the utility will suffice. If well water is the source then a hydrologist’s report verifying sufficient water for two residences is needed. If surface water is being used in the residence, a water licence showing capacity for two dwellings is required.
After April 30 suites that are not registered or in the process of being registered will be considered illegal suites. If the District becomes aware of such a suite the matter goes to bylaw enforcement, and could ultimately result in the eviction of tenants if the suite is determined to be unsafe. Furthermore, illegal suites that are known to the District and on municipal water and sewer will be billed for utilities at 100 per cent of the regular user rate.