Vancouver City Councillor wants to see rules relaxed on illegal suites in multi-family homes to help deal with the rental crunch.
Adrianne Carr says the city’s east side and inner city saw an explosion of basement suites during World War Two, when housing rules were relaxed to accommodate a housing shortage – many in homes that were further divided into duplexes on upper floors.
She says these suites are currently illegal under city zoning rules, and if discovered, must be shut down unless they go through the stringent Multi-Family Conversion Dwelling process.
Carr says that’s a pricey endeavour, that often ends up with the same result: less rental housing.
“That requires the whole building to be brought up to code. And typically then results in those suites being lost to the rental market because the owner has to recoup their costs so they end up stratifying and selling those suites as condos.”
Carr says rules for basement suites in single family homes are far more relaxed, and wants to see a similar scheme applied to multi-family dwellings.
“Issues like height. If they’re out by an inch or two, there’s a relaxation. Making sure of course electricity is all up to date and safe. The plumbing systems. But not that the whole house has to be updated.”
She adds the city currently doesn’t have a firm number on how many such suites exist, and by offering a path to legalization would help the city develop an inventory of the housing stock.
She’s pitching a motion to council next Tuesday to address the issue and wants to see units that can be brought up to a less stringent code grandfathered in as “legal non-conforming suites” under the city’s zoning by-law.