It’s no secret there’s a shortage of rental housing stock in Kamloops. With a current vacancy rate of less than 1 per cent, renters often have no choice but to pay more for less. Sometimes less also means less safe, less space, and a lower overall quality of life.
While there are a number of contributing factors to the rental shortage, there’s one solution we think might be underrated and overlooked - secondary suites! This is something we think more people might want to consider, coming together as a community to create homes for new neighbours.
The City of Kamloops has developed extensive guidelines around residential suites, which include secondary suites, garden, and carriage suites.
In-law suites (which is a term we see regularly in listings) aren’t actually recognized as a type of suite as they are typically constructed by owners without a building permit. If you have one of these, there’s a process you can go through to legalize an existing suite, which could add value to your home if you ever look to sell.
The City hopes providing these guidelines will encourage more people to consider adding one of these options to their home and/or property and increase availability of legal, affordable, and safe rental housing stock.
Suites built to BC Building Code standards under a building permit help to protect the health and safety of homeowners and tenants, and suites built in accordance with zoning regulations help to minimize their impact on neighbourhoods. Residential suites also help increase density in an efficient and sustainable way by making use of existing services and infrastructure.
There are many unsanctioned suites in homes and buildings across the city, and while they may provide an option for people with little to no other choice, many of these options aren’t safe, don’t meet minimum building code standards, and pose a health and safety risk to occupants.
Aside from safety, the guidelines also aim to ensure sensitive integration into the neighbourhood, consistency with existing form and character and to reduce the impact on nearby property owners.
So what are the options?
Secondary Suite: This is a second dwelling unit with a floor area not exceeding 90 sq m (969 sq. ft.), taking up less than 40 per cent of the total living area in a single-family home. The secondary suite can be located either above or below ground.
Garden or Carriage Suite: These are separate, self-contained dwelling unit that is smaller than, and accessory to, the main home (a single-family home with no other dwelling units).
Garden suites can be one story with a maximum footprint of 80(861 sq. ft.) and carriage suites can be two storeys with a maximum building footprint of 80 and 95 (1,022 sq. ft.) of total living space.
Ideally any of these options would also provide one parking stall and some outdoor amenity space. Given the garden and carriage suites have such a small footprint, it’s surprising how little space you need to add one of these options to your existing property.
Want to learn more about residential suites, including where they are permitted and the overall process? Check out this video, this great summary guide or ask one of Your Kamloops RealtorsⓇ today!
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