The cost of applying for a secondary suite license is being cut in hopes that more rental units will be created.
Vernon council agreed to eliminate the $60 fee at its Monday, March 22 meeting.
“It has an overarching impact,” Coun. Kari Gares said. “It’s just one of those things that doesn’t need to be there.”
Since 2010, there have only been 210 secondary suite licenses issued, 135 of which are active, mainly because a number of landlords don’t bother registering their suites as they aren’t always up to code.
“We know there’s probably 2,000-plus suites,” said Gares.
By eliminating the fee, it’s hoped more homeowners will open up secondary suites.
“It’s addressing an emergency, which is a serious housing crisis,” Coun. Kelly Fehr said.
But one councillor doesn’t see how the removal of this small fee will have any big impact on vacancy rates.
“I don’t think that’s going to increase the market,” Coun. Dalvir Nahal said.
In fact, she is more concerned about the impact this may have on the living conditions renters may be subject to.
“I can assure you that is happening right now, five people to one bedroom and a hot plate,” Nahal said.
“If anybody can have a basement suite who is going to be checking it?”
Having licensed suites allows bylaw to respond to complaints. But Nahal points out that complaints will still be investigated.
Nahal suggests the real change is needed at the provincial residential tenancy level to make it easier on homeowners who are sometimes deterred by bad tenant experiences.
“It’s easier to do an Airbnb than it is to have a tenancy,” said Nahal.