Our how–to guide on legalizing your Vancouver basement suite before tenants move in
Moving into a house in Vancouver is often not a cheap endeavour. That’s why, after settling in the Lower Mainland, many new homeowners choose to rent out some rooms in their houses to help out with the mortgage. The basement suite is often the first choice for a rental. But, like many things in life, good planning is essential to doing something right — in a lot of Metro Vancouver areas, you can’t just start renting out a basement right away. Basement suites have to pass certain standards before tenants can move in. So today, we’ll give a few tips on how to legalize your Vancouver basement suite.
First, get through the paperwork needed to legalize your Vancouver basement suite
Legalizing a basement suite in Vancouver involves a lot of paperwork. If you take a look at the City of Vancouver website, you’ll see there are a number of permits and inspections needed before you can start renting out your home and allowing movers to bring in furniture so the place is livable. This may also be the case with suburbs of Vancouver, so check with your local municipal, city or corporation site for variations on the rules surrounding what makes a legal basement suite.
First things first, you’ll need to apply for an initial inspection. The idea is that the city will send someone over to see what, if any, work your basement suite needs in order for it to comply with regulations. You’ll then get a letter listing all the changes that you’ll need to make in order to make your Vancouver basement suite legal for rent.
If necessary, permits will be needed to start renovating the house. You’ll have to show your plans to city hall, and if officials are okay with them, they will approve. Then you can start working on the house. In the meantime, periodic inspections — and one final inspection — will be needed in order to make sure everything is up to standard.
If the city is happy with the work you’ve done, you’ll get a confirmation letter in the mail. But hold your horses! You’ll need to get an annual business licence before you start renting. Once that’s done, then you can start looking for tenants and allow them to move in.
Be prepared to pay to legalize your Vancouver basement suite
It would probably be best for you to carefully plan your finances during this time. The City of Vancouver website estimates that the licensing process — not including renovation costs — can add up to more than $1,300. This includes the initial ‘special inspection,’ development permit, permits for utilities, and business fees.
The main takeaway — have some extra cash saved up before you legalize your Vancouver basement suite, because the city’s estimated cost can possibly be the minimum amount you’ll have to pay. Remember, renovations will cost extra.
Know your rights as a landlord before movers arrive
The homework doesn’t stop there. There are still a number of regulations involving rental deposits and payments. Then there is information that you have to know with regard to when and if you can evict an abusive tenant. There is so much to know, it’s impossible to cover everything in a blog post, but we can give you a few pointers.
Study the B.C. Tenancy Act — The province has created a great resource that allows tenants and landlords to get familiar with their rights here. We’ve also been covering this topic on our blog. We’d suggest checking out one of our previous posts here.
Stay on top of current events — Rights that tenants and landlords are constantly changing thanks to new court rulings. For example, a relatively recent ruling from B.C. may result in more ‘bad neighbours’ getting evicted.
If you ever have questions about municipal regulations in Vancouver, call 3-1-1. This ranges from building permits for legalizing basement suites to finding parking spots for tenants.
Help is just a call away
We at Ferguson Moving & Storage in Vancouver BC have helped many tenants move into new places in Metro Vancouver. If a potential tenant needs help moving, we’d be glad to offer our services, or at least a little advice. And if you would like to move items like stoves or fridges in your basement suite before renting it out, we have plenty of experience helping with that, too! Give us a call at 604-922-2212!
Vancouver Movers Guide, by Ferguson Moving & Storage
As Vancouver’s oldest moving company, we’re here to help your move go as smooth as possible! While we’re best known for Moving & Storage in the Vancouver area, we’ve long been a resource for all sorts of local wisdom gained over our last 99 years in the Vancouver moving business.