Secondary Suites in North Vancouver

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Secondary Suites in North Vancouver

District of North Vancouver The District’s Zoning Bylaw defines a secondary suite as: “secondary suite” means a designated area within a single-family residential building, only in a single-family residential zone, that is comprised of one or more habitable rooms and contains or provides for only one cooking facility”. The term secondary suite includes suites that are sometimes referred to as “in-law suites”, “basement suites”, “nanny suites” or “mortgage helpers”. Secondary suites have been legally permitted as a use in the District since October 14, 1997.

A building permit authorizes the installation of a secondary suite.Those installed without a building permit, such as any installed before 1997, are considered to be unauthorized. In 2001, annual utility charges for water and sewer services were imposed on properties containing a secondary suite. This charge applies to all secondary suites, whether authorized or not. The utility fee consists of water and sewage charges and is included with the annual tax notice.

The Zoning Bylaw requires that the building be occupied by its owner, that an additional off-street parking space be provided and that the suite be less than 40% of the total floor area, to a maximum of 90 m² (968 ft²). The construction of the suite is regulated by the relevant construction Codes, (ie Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Gas). A building permit is required to create a secondary suite. For more information click here.

North Vancouver

To be eligible to build a coach house, your single family lot must satisfy these general requirements:

  • Your lot must be over 929 m2 (10,000 square feet) — or at least 15m (50 feet) wide on a corner lot, or with access to an open lane
  • You cannot have an existing secondary suite, either attached or detached
  • The combined size of your principal house and coach house can’t exceed the allowed maximum density for your zone
  • The proposal must meet the Development Permit Area Policy of Schedule B in the OCP.

City of North Vancouver

In October 1997, the City’s zoning bylaw was amended to permit secondary suites in single-family homes in all of the City’s single-family residential zones, subject to the following five regulations:

  1. Secondary suites are permitted only in single-family homes in single-family residential zones.
  2. Only one secondary suite is permitted per single family residential building.
  3. Secondary suites must not exceed the lesser of 968 square feet in total area or 40 per cent of the total residential floor space of the single-family residential building in which the suite is located.
  4. Owners of single-family residential buildings containing secondary suites must reside either in the secondary suites or in the principal residential units.
  5. Secondary suites are prohibited in single-family residential buildings containing one or more boarders, or in buildings in which there is a licensed business.

Existing secondary suites are considered legal if they are listed on land titles. Homeowners are not required to register existing secondary suites with the City, they do not have to pay a business license fee, and there are no additional charges for water, sewer and garbage pick-up. Homeowners, however, require building permits to construct new secondary suites. Upon completion, City property-use inspectors inspect and register these new suites. Once suites have been registered, the City charges homeowners an additional fee for water, sewer and garbage pick-up.This fee is comparable to the municipal utility charge of an average single-family home.

CMHC info on North Vancouver City Secondary Suites click here.


City of North Vancouver – Coach Houses

Accessory CoachHouses. The City of North Vancouver is making Coach House accommodation available to the community as a unique housing option. The Coach House concept is intended to provide City residents with more choices in how they live, support extended families, and offer a more livable secondary suite option. This will increase the diversity of housing in the City and deliver a more affordable detached housing option.

A Coach House is a detached secondary suite usually located at the rear of the lot, behind the existing principle residence, which is smaller in size, complements the main residence, and incorporates sustainable design. Coach Houses cannot be strata titled or sold separately. An owner must live in one of the two units. Guidelines address issues such as lot size, building size, height, location on the lot, parking, open space and special approval process requirements.

The two-tier approach is comprised of Level A and Level B Coach Houses. Level A is a one storey building with a smaller floor area (up to 800 sq. ft) that would be approved by staff through a Development Permit. Level B Coach Houses are slightly larger at 1.6 storeys with a larger floor area (up to 1000 sq. ft) that would require City Council approval.


West Vancouver

A secondary suite is defined in the Zoning Bylaw as a dwelling unit accessory to a single family or two family dwelling use. Only one secondary suite is permitted per lot and cannot be detached from the principal building. Other requirements include:

  1. meet the zoning requirements
  2. meet safety and building standards
  3. apply for business licence
  4. be a minimum size of 20m² (215 sq. ft.) and maximum of either 90m² (968 sq. ft.) or 40% of the total floor area of the building excluding garage space, whichever is less.

Prior to 2010 all secondary suites in West Vancouver were not permitted. The Secondary Suite program became effective in March 2010, in order to authorize secondary suites and expand the range of housing options in the community. The program was designed to help homeowners complete all the life/safety requirements to legalize their existing suite in a way that is affordable. On March 21, 2011, Council voted to expand the secondary suite program to allow for secondary suites in non-owner occupied homes. The same requirements apply as for a secondary suite in an owner occupied dwelling. In addition, the owner will need to designate a property manager at the time of application. This change to the program was made to recognize the unique characteristics of West Vancouver’s housing supply. Many of the existing secondary suites in non-owner occupied homes have existed in West Vancouver for decades. A Business Licence will be required for all secondary suites. The fee paid in the first year of $400 for owner occupied homes and $450 for non-owner occupied homes, covers the required inspection costs and the first year licence fee. There will be an annual renewal fee of $350 for owner-occupied homes and $450 for non-owner occupied homes per year.

For More Information on West Vancouver Secondary Suites click here.