Suite dreams and savings in city

Pitt Meadows offers incentive to make illegal mortgage helpers legal

If you’ve got tenants living in the basement of your home in Pitt Meadows, in a suite considered illegal, it’s best to come clean to city hall.

Pitt Meadows intends to begin a crackdown on the mortgage helpers next year, using both the carrot and stick approach.

Homeowners who disclose they have secondary suites, and begin the process to legalize them, will be rewarded with savings of 40 per cent on their water, sewer and garbage rates.

Those who prefer to stay silent will get pay almost double.

Pitt Meadows’ director of operations Kim Grout recommends that folks who think city hall isn’t aware of the dwellings take the steps required to get them legitimized.

“Pitt Meadows is so small, chances are it will be brought to our attention, if not through our own actions, but someone else’s,” said Grout.

The city currently has a list of 145 “in-law suites” registered on title, but census figures reveal there may be as many as 555 additional separate dwellings.

Pitt Meadows intends to begin a campaign to educate residents about the pros and cons of getting their secondary suites legalizes by the end of the year and will also go through a process to identity if a blood relative really is living in the “in-law suites” they already know exist. Staff will also be checking classifieds.

“We want to catch as many people as possible before tax time, which is when they will really see the benefit [of the savings],” said Grout.

Residents who don’t want to make their secondary suites legal will have to “decommission” them, a process that involves removing cooking facilities and locking doors that separate the suite from the main house.

Homeowners will also be required to get an electrical or gas permit from the B.C. Safety Authority to remove an electric or gas stove and bylaw enforcement staff will check the suites to verify that all the steps have been followed.

• For more, visit pittmeadows.bc.ca.

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