Secondary Suites

Having a suite in your home can provide many benefits. Multi-generational families can enjoy close proximity and maintain privacy, or you may want to rent it out, providing more housing options within our community and generating income for you.

Secondary suites are legal in West Vancouver if they:

  • comply with BC Building Code standards
  • are registered with the municipality
  • are licensed according to the suite’s use

BC Building Code Requirements for Secondary Suites

A secondary suite is a separate residential unit within a home, generally located in the basement, and significantly smaller than the dwelling in which it is located. The size must be either 40% of the square footage of the home, up to a maximum of 968 square feet, whichever is less. For a secondary suite, property owners must:

  • provide a separate heating system for the suite
  • add or alter an existing sprinkler system
  • provide a 45 minute fire separation between the suite and dwelling
  • provide both an ionized and photo-electric interconnected hard-wired smoke alarm in the suite and dwelling
  • increase the width of the exit stairs or corridors to the suite
  • provide a self-closing solid core door between the dwelling and the suite
  • provide an exit door to the suite which swings on a vertical access (no sliders)
  • remove or provide protection to doors and windows of the dwelling that could expose the suite exit stairs to fire
  • enclose exposed combustible plumbing piping in the suite as it is not permitted to pass through the rated floor system
  • upgrade the electrical and plumbing systems to those code standards
  • make any other alterations necessary to bring the suite and the dwelling into compliance with the BC Building Code or other provincial regulations

Registering Your Suite

Homeowners must register and pay fees for secondary suites for several reasons:

  • to allow inspection by the municipality to ensure safety of occupants
  • to provide muncipal services to tenants of the suite, including library, community centres, and police and fire services, via registration fees.

The initial registration fee of $450 covers the inspection and the first year’s licence fee. Subsequently, each year there will be an annual renewal fee required to maintain your registered status.There are different annual renewal rates depending on the use of the suite:

Annual Renewal Fees

  • rented suites in non-owner occupied homes: $450
  • rented suites in owner-occupied homes: $350
  • unoccupied or for family use: $85

Risks of an Unregistered Suite

If you don’t register your secondary suite, you will be in contravention of the Zoning Bylaw, which could lead to fines up to $10,000 and other penalties:

  • Lien to prevent property being sold with contraventions in place
  • Court order to require remedial action (stop renting, remove suite, apply for permit, etc.)

There are other implications of having an unregistered suite:

  • The market value of your home decreases
  • Fire insurance will not cover unregistered suites
  • Basic safety equipment may not be in place

Alternative to Registering your Suite

If you don’t wish to register your suite, you have the option to decommission it. This simple process includes the following steps:

  • Hire a qualified electrician to obtain an electrical permit on your behalf
  • Remove stove wiring from wall outlet and electrical panel
  • Remove all cooking facilities from suite, including microwaves and hotplates
  • Submit a declaration to the District that this work has been completed

Secondary Suite Application Form

Contact

Bylaw & Licensing Department

604-925-7152

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