Secondary suite: Legalization or decommission

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According to The City of Kelowna Zoning Bylaw No.8000 secondary suite "means an additional dwelling unit located within a residential building that has a total floor space of no more than 90m2 in area, having a floor space less than 40% of the total habitable space of that building, and is subordinate to the principal dwelling unit and is a single real estate entity. This use does not include duplex housing, semi-detached housing, apartment housing, or boarding and lodges houses".

Once a homeowner is notified of an illegal suite within a structure they own, they have two options available to correct the illegal condition. These two options are outlined below:

Option 1: Suite permitted in current zone/legalize of suite

  • If the current zoning of the property permits a secondary suite, it will be necessary to obtain permits to ensure the suite complies with all requirements of the applicable City bylaws and the British Columbia Building Code.
  • See Secondary Suite Requirements within a Single Family Dwelling for a list of items that must be addressed prior to issuance of the building permit for legalization of a secondary suite. After approval of the building permit, inspections will be required to ensure the space fully complies with the City approved plans. Additional upgrades as required by the building inspector may need to be addressed onsite prior to issuance of an occupancy permit for the use of the area shown as a secondary suite on the approved plans.

Option 2: Decommission illegal suite

  • Obtain permits to decommission the illegal secondary suite, which would require at minimum, the removal of the Exhaust fans and applicable wiring, 220-volt wiring from the stove outlet to the electrical panel including any plugs switches and breakers (BC Safety Authority confirmation of removal will be required with approved electrical permit), and/or natural gas rough-in removal (a licensed gas contractor may be necessary).
  • It will be necessary to ensure the entire building is free flowing and interconnected. This means that there are to be no internal locking doors that could be used to divide the building into separate portions and all levels of the single family dwelling are to be interconnected by an internal free flowing staircase.
  • To achieve full decommissioning of the illegal suite additional items may need to be addressed as determined by the building inspector onsite.
  • If the illegal suite was developed without approved permits additional permits may be required by the building inspector.

Once notified by the City of Kelowna Bylaw Services Branch of an illegal secondary suite an owner must immediately (within 15 working days) proceed with one of the above options. Failure to do so may result in a notice on the tax certificate and further legal action.