SURREY — The City of Surrey may start fining homeowners who claim they don’t have a secondary suite, but in fact do.
Homeowners doing so will be subject to a $1,000 fine, if a corporate report suggesting the changes is passed at a council meeting Monday night.
In 2010, council approved changes to the city’s zoning bylaw to allow secondary suites. Then in 2011, the city introduced a secondary suite service fee, which is currently $495 per suite per year.
When that fee was introduced, the city’s records show there were 17,300 properties with a suite.
Since then, the city’s inventory of suites has grown to 24,150.
Once a suite fee is attached to a property, the only way to remove it is if the owner arranges for an inspection by a bylaw enforcement officer to confirm the suite no longer exists. The corporate report that was expected to go before council Monday (Sept. 23) says staff have realized some property owners are removing their secondary suites on a temporary basis to satisfy bylaw inspection, then reinstating the suite afterward.
The city is now considering a $1,000 fine that will be levied against owners in the event that a suite is found on a property not registered to have one.
Suites that are removed and inspected by the city would be subject to re-inspection if the bylaw changes are accepted, and homeowners would be fined if the suite were being used illegally.
In 2012, Kim Carron from Cloverdale told the Now she was charged the fee for having a secondary suite because she prepared a room downstairs in her home for her 69-year-old blind father-in-law and the room contained a stove.
She asked what made a suite a suite.
It turned out, the list of cooking appliances that can turn a room into a secondary suite in Surrey includes counter-top, gas or electric ranges or stoves, counter-top cooking units, hot plates, wall ovens, convection ovens, microwaves, toasters, electric frying pans, electric woks, pressure cookers and crock pots.
Check back Tuesday to see what happened during Monday's council meeting.
-With files from Jacob Zinn
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