Secondary suite owners in Delta have until next year to register the dwellings or they face court action and hefty fines.
The Corporation of Delta introduced a secondary suite bylaw last year, and found, like Surrey, the number of people applying for permits was low.
So Delta put together a carrot-and-stick approach to entice people to legalize the suites by Jan. 31, 2012.
To encourage people to act early, the costs of permits and inspections are free. And those who register their suite before the deadline will have $300 deducted from their secondary suite utility fee.
Hugh Davies, Delta’s manager of property use and compliance, said there have been about 80 of the estimated 7,000 suite owners who have begun the process. He expects that number to rise significantly this summer.
Delta is going to every home with a secondary suite and giving the homeowners a brochure letting them know the benefits of getting their property permitted early.
If their secondary suite is not made legal by Jan. 31, 2012 the homeowner faces court action and fines of $200 a day.
“Bylaw enforcement is all about compliance,” Davies said. “It’s all about getting people to do what they’re supposed to do.”
In Surrey, only one person out of more than 20,000 estimated suite owners has applied for a permit to legalize their suite.
Since Surrey passed its bylaw three months ago, it has been informing the public through its website, and officials say there are no plans for incentives.
There is no deadline set for compliance. It is also unclear what measures will be taken if people do not comply.
Acting Mayor Barinder Rasode said last week the first action will be to educate the public. She doubted the city would directly mail suite owners, but would instead use social networking sites to inform the public.
More information about Surrey’s secondary suite bylaw is at http://www.surrey.ca/bylaws-policies-licenses/7617.aspx
To learn about Delta’s program: http://www.corp.delta.bc.ca/suites.