The proliferation of unregistered triplexes and quadplexes means law-abiding taxpayers are paying more, writes Bob Vadas Jr. (Thinkstock photos)

LETTERS: Blind eye turned to suite problem

Editor: There are many owners of prohibited duplexes getting away without paying proper taxes.


Believe it or not, there are many owners of prohibited duplexes – when they have three or four units – getting away without paying proper taxes on their investment-rental properties here in Surrey.

Taxes were to be paid on or before July 4, and many other homeowners have suffered drastic tax increases in recent years .

In 2010, the City of Surrey passed a law prohibiting or banning secondary suites in all legal duplexes. Although the duplex owner – providing they are residing on the property – are allowed to rent out the other unit, they are banned from subdividing the duplex into a three- or four-plex. This same bylaw is applied throughout most of the Greater Vancouver region. Although secondary suites are allowed to be legal for additional tax money, these extra two or more units are not.

Hence, owners that do this are not paying extra tax money, and are subjecting the tenants to fire-hazard and other safety issues.

The law clearly states that the (a) owner must be living on the property – though many owners do not do so – and (b) secondary suites must not exceed 969 square feet. The existence of a cooking facility and bathroom are the only requirements to be called a secondary suite. Even when they are empty, they are still secondary suites.

Given the shortage of affordable rentals, the City of Surrey has turned a blind eye to this problem. Just report one, and you will see that nothing is done about it. These firetraps and tax-evading properties are not fined, but simply allowed to operate on the public dole. Sometimes the owner just stops renting the unit(s) out for a period of time, and later starts to rent them out again, until another phone call or email complaint is made to the city bylaws department.

Most of the time, the city inspector does not even inspect the unit or issue any citation; just a file is opened up and then tabled.

Many homeowners feel that the increases on their property taxes do not reflect the current increase in inflation.

It is high time that the public put pressure on the City of Surrey bylaws department to either have these additional units taxed – after they are made to conform to fire and other safety regulations – or shut them down immediately and levy the fines on these owners. Time to end this glorified-welfare system that is at the public’s expense!

Bob Vadas Jr., Surrey

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