Multiple suites in single-family neighbourhood homes are nothing new here in Surrey, but it is out of control. I really don’t think that allowing multiple suites in designated areas will make any difference to them being built in single-family neighbourhoods. These builders and homeowners have always been ignoring the laws and the tax man and doing as they please, with no worries of bylaw enforcement.
Almost all the homes in my area have suites, most having two, some even more. They only have to pay a small fee to the city and only for one suite and that’s only if it’s been reported and verified by the city. If every home on the street and subdivision has suites, who will be reporting them?
Even if reported, nothing happens. I only know of one home across from me was ordered to remove one of their multiple suites five years ago, but it was back in the following day without any further action by the city.
I realize that thousands of people rely on these suites for affordable housing and just as many homeowners rely on the income to cover and qualify for their mortgages. The city and the province should be supplying enough social and affordable housing, not the homeowners. No extra taxes are collected from these suites for schools, roads, parks etc., but all are used by these tenants. The homeowners aren’t paying income tax on their income from the suites either, adding further strain on the system.
Just look at the issues we are having with the budgets for schools, TransLink, health care and the rest of the government-funded shortfalls. It’s the law-abiding single-family homeowner that is stuck with an unfair share of this burden, both in neighbourhood livability and taxes.
A bylaw free-for-all?
Surrey council is still not getting it. The landlords are not paying their fair share. School taxes are not being collected.
The suites are illegal, not sanctioned, not approved, not inspected. People renting them are put at risk.
If city council steadfastly refuses to enforce the existing bylaw on suites, can they morally enforce any bylaw?
Should the bylaw department and bylaw enforcement officers be scrapped and let the city be a free-for-all?
R. Laidlaw, Surrey
Let neighbourhoods vote
Re: “Tenants and landlords speak out about suites.”
I am so glad that you let a landlord that owns a property with illegal multiple suites speak out.
I have these questions for her: Do you declare the income you receive on all your rental suites? Do you follow the rules and park the two suites’ vehicles on your property? Are you making the problem worse in your neighbourhood or are you being a good landlord and following the bylaws and paying your fair share of the property tax for these two suites?
I don’t really want to hear about the landlords that have multiple suites and how nice it is for them to provide affordable accommodation for people. I am rolling my eyes as I type this. For example, one multiple-suite landlord in my neighbourhood has a gardener for her tiny non-existent lot, drives a high-end car and employs a nanny. I have witnessed this in the past in the homes that I have lived in with multiple suites.
My family rented a suite in a multiple-suite home many years ago as that was what was affordable for us at the time. I totally understand the need.
But suites and multiple suites need to be in neighbourhoods that can easily accommodate triple the cars and people – for example, the older neighbourhoods in Guildford, Newton or Fleetwood that have driveways with enough room to park four cars and bigger lots. They should not be allowed in the high-density neighbourhoods where we are already crammed in like sardines.
Let each neighbourhood vote whether to allow multiple suites. The taxpayers are the ones who should have the final say, not the council.
And if no one does anything, meaning us the taxpayers, then nothing will be done and Surrey will continue to be the congested mess that it currently is.
Take action on this issue
I am writing in response to the recent letter, “rental slum looms in Clayton.”
I am a new homeowner to this neighbourhood and find it very upsetting to see how a fairly new dynamic family-orientated community is being crumbled down due to Surrey council not stepping up and enforcing secondary suite bylaws.
Delta has a grip on the issue by imposing fines on landlords and I can’t seem to figure out what Surrey is waiting for.
It’s not the tenants’ fault. The landlords are the ones making extra money for renting out illegal suites without paying secondary suite fees and not providing adequate parking.
Mayor Dianne Watts says this is a 30-year-old problem and not an easy one to fix. Actually, Mayor Watts, there were no coach homes being built 30 years ago so enough with the excuses. Take responsibility and take action for this issue.
I feel as though myself and others in this situation are being penalized for doing the right thing. I have a secondary suite which I am paying full secondary suite dwelling taxes for. I even took the step of cutting my backyard square footage which is already so minimal to accommodate a parking spot for my tenant.
What is going to happen when the new City of Surrey garbage recycling program comes into effect this fall. Let’s see if the city clues in on why larger bins are being requested or why so much garbage from so many people living in a multiple suite residential unit causes overflow of small bins which will lead to an un-environmentally friendly Surrey.