Delta residents encouraged to legalize suites by June 30

The Corporation of Delta has written to home owners to encourage them to legalize their secondary suite by June 30, 2016 in order to save money and address potential health and safety risks. Those who do so by the end of the month will not be charged for the first two building inspections of their suite (a savings of $250). Property owners will also receive a free water meter installed by the municipality so their utility taxes will be based on water consumption.

After June 30, applications to install or legalize an existing secondary suite in Delta will require a building permit issued through the Community Planning and Development department.

Hugh Davies, Delta’s Manager of Property Use and Compliance, told the Board’s Government Relations committee the municipality is encouraging residents to legalize their suites to avoid what happened to two little girls in Surrey. They both died from smoke inhalation caused by a fire in the basement, which did not set off the smoke alarms in the main floor living area.

He estimates there are about 4,200 suites in Delta and 2,200 of them have been legalized to date. The municipality knows where the suites without Occupancy Permits are and have sent letters to the owners, asking them to legalize their suite.

A secondary suite is a self-contained area within a single family dwelling containing cooking facilities, a living/sleeping area and a bathroom. A suite can include common areas with the rest of the home such as a laundry room.

As of 2016, property owners must meet the following requirements to obtain an exemption for utility taxes for a secondary suite by way of a Statutory Declaration:

  • the owner of the property must live on the property
  • the suite must be occupied by family members only
  • the owner must produce proof of residency on the property
  • the owner must agree to authorize an inspection of the suite by a bylaw inspector

With the installation of water meters, these Statutory Declarations will be phased out beginning in 2017.

Click here for the municipality’s additional requirements for legalizing secondary suites.

The process for legalizing an existing suite in Delta is as follows:

  1. Complete the Secondary Suite Registration Form.
  2. Submit one copy of a Floor Plan which outlines items such as room names and dimensions, interior and exterior doors and window sizes and locations.
  3. If there are secondary suite restrictions on the title of the property, homeowners are advised to contact Community Planning and Development at 604-946-3380 to determine the process to remove these restrictions.
  4. Once the Registration Form and Floor Plan have been processed, the homeowner needs to book an appointment to inspect their suite. The Building Inspector will check the suite to confirm it meets all of Delta’s requirements. If the inspection reveals that additional work is needed, a re-inspection will be necessary after the work has been completed. Fees for the first two inspections have been waived until June 30 (a savings of $250).
  5. Once the inspector is satisfied that the suite meets all the requirements, Delta will issue a Final Occupancy Permit for the suite and add the information about the suite to their Secondary Suite Registry database. The registry includes all legalized suites in Delta.

Davies said the municipality monitors rental ads for suites, however usually neighbours call to report on a suite.

What you can do to help the Corporation of Delta:

  • Do not advertise on the MLS® that a home has a mortgage helper, nanny suite or room to grow.
  • If you see inappropriate or unsafe suites in Delta, it would be helpful if you give the municipality the head’s up by calling the Secondary Suites Hotline (604-952-3159). This is an anonymous tip line.
  • Email if you have questions.
  • In the future, Delta will have a website for anyone, including REALTORS® to check if a suite has been legalized.