I am being asked more and more frequently about Secondary Suites, Unauthorized Accommodations or Basement Suites as they’re also known. As of May 2013, all secondary suites are required by the Township of Langley to have a Secondary Suite License. A building permit is required to ensure the secondary suite has been inspected and can be licensed accordingly. One of the biggest questions is: what are the requirements for the suite to be authorized. Firstly, the property needs to be owner occupied and you are only permitted one suite in the home. It cannot exceed 968 square feet or 40% of the total living space of the building. As well, the ceiling height cannot be less than 6’6”.
There are also safety, heating & ventilation requirements and the full details for these are available on the Township of Langley website. While this might seem overwhelming, I know of people who have been able to bring their suite up to code for just a couple of thousand dollars. For others, the cost can be a little higher depending on how much work is required. Family-occupied suites can request an exemption where there is no income or revenue generated, but the suite is still subject to the requirements of the Building Permit and obtaining an accepted final inspection. To note are the annual fees: The license is $350 or $175 for the family occupied suite, and your Property Taxes will be increased by 30% of applicable water & sewer charges. The utility charge is waived for family occupied suites. If you have an unauthorized suite and you don’t want to license it, owners must apply for a Building Permit to decommission or remove the suite. There is no charge, however, an inspection is still required to confirm the removal of the suite. The penalties are quite hefty, so you will not want to brush this under the carpet and hope you’ll never be discovered! Unauthorized secondary suites are a contravention of Township bylaws and the fines are up to $500 PER DAY! Furthermore, a notice may be placed on your property tax information sheet which could affect resale or financing of the property as well as a note on Title. Letters are now being sent out to all homes in the Township requesting homeowners to confirm if they have a secondary suite in the home, and the onus will be on the homeowner to confirm whether there is or isn’t. I have personally met with the Township to discuss the issue of Secondary Suites and their primary goal is PUBLIC SAFETY. They are willing to work with you if you are willing to comply with bylaws.