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For questions and comments on utility invoices and the Secondary Dwelling Unit program contact: Utility Invoice Inquiries • Phone: 604-820-3718

Secondary Dwellings & Suites

2017 Exemption Renewal Application – Due by January 31, 2017

All properties with an exemption from the secondary dwelling unit utility charges expire on December 31, 2016.   Letters will be sent out by December 16, 2016 to all properties on file who are currently receiving an exemption.   If you still meet the requirements for an exemption and wish to continue with the exemption in 2017, please submit an Exemption Renewal for Secondary Dwelling Unit form by January 31, 2017.  Any exemption applications received after May 15, 2017 will be charged an administration fee of $50.00. All exemption applications received after June 30, 2017 will have the secondary dwelling exemption prorated from the date of submission, in order words, the secondary dwelling unit exemption will not apply to the charges prior to the date of submission.

Secondary Dwelling Unit Program

The District of Mission has undertaken a project to identify homes with secondary dwelling units (suites) by using data obtained from BC Assessment, the District’s secondary dwelling unit billing database and various other sources.

A secondary dwelling unit is a dwelling unit in addition to the main dwelling unit, used or capable of being used as an independent residence by one or more persons, having sleeping and living spaces, a bathroom and cooking facilities. The existence of a secondary dwelling unit is not determined by the payment of rent nor is it negated by occupancy by family members or property owners.  If the facilities for an independent residence exist, then a suite exists.

This definition applies to a secondary suite, coach house or a cottage.

The District of Mission acknowledges the important role that secondary dwelling units, particularly secondary suites, play with respect to affordable housing and for property owners to supplement their income.

Occupants of secondary dwelling units also burden the provision of water, sewer, garbage, recycling and compost services as well as other services such as bylaw enforcement and parks and recreation.

For fairness, it is important that these occupants pay their fair share of this burden.

To account for the additional usage of water, sanitary sewer, and/or garbage and recycling/compostable (waste management) services, the District of Mission currently charges owners of known secondary dwelling units a secondary dwelling unit charge equal to the base rate for the main dwelling, for those services that are provided.

Current Utility User Fees

Utility user fees are comprised of Water, Sewer, Garbage and Recycling/Compost services. The 2017 flat-rate user fees per single family home that receive these services are:

Utility Base Rate With Secondary Dwelling With Secondary Dwelling
(Outside Waste Collection Area)
Water $493.80 $987.60
Sanitary Sewer $398.16 $796.32
Garbage * $165.24 $330.48
Recycling and Compostables * $130.08 $260.16 $35.28 **
Total $1,187.28 $2,374.56 $35.28 **

*Homes currently metered for water, only the garbage and recycling/compostable fees are increased (totaling $295.32) for the secondary dwelling unit.
**Homes outside of the waste collection area pay $17.64 to support the rural recycling program, $35.28 with a secondary dwelling unit.

Currently, property owners with occupied SDUs are charged additional utility fees to cover the additional burden on utilities. There are two situations whereby property owners can avoid paying double utilities, qualify for an exemption or decommission the secondary dwelling unit.

Exemptions

An exemption may be available to the home owner for an unoccupied secondary dwelling unit. For information on how to qualify for an exemption please review and complete a Secondary Dwelling Unit Application for Exemption form. Once your application has been submitted, please pay the utility exemption fee by mailing in a cheque or in person at the Municipal hall. A staff member will call you to  schedule an inspection to verify that you qualify for an exemption.

All previously approved exemptions expired on December 31, 2016. Renewal exemption applications are therefore required for 2017.  For all properties with an approved 2016 exemption, please submit an Exemption Renewal for Secondary Dwelling Unit form before January 31, 2017.

Sale of a Home with an Exemption

The exemption is provided to the property owner, not the property itself. Any existing exemption is void from date of the sale. It is the seller’s responsibility to inform any potential buyers of the conditions of the exemption. It is the new homeowner’s responsibility to apply for the utility exemption if they qualify or apply to decommission their SDU within 60 days of the sale. The new homeowner’s application is considered a new application and an inspection and application fee of $77.44 is applicable to avoid monthly SDU charges for the year of purchase.

Decommissioning a Secondary Dwelling Unit (Suite)

Should you wish to decommission a secondary dwelling unit, please review the following requirements:

      1. Remove all cooking facilities, including the electrical receptacle for the basement stove from the wall and the circuit breaker for the stove from the electrical panel. The wiring for the stove must be cut off a minimum of 2 feet above the receptacle and 2 feet below the breaker. These cuts are to be left open for inspection to confirm the wiring has been completely disabled.
      2. Removal of stove hood fan.
      3. Remove any locks between the upper and lower floors of the house.
      4. Once the suite has been decommissioned, complete a the Decommissioning a Secondary Dwelling Unit Application form. A fee will be required and an inspection will be arranged.

Should you wish to keep the cooking facilities in your basement suite, an alternative would be to remove the door separating the main dwelling with the secondary dwelling along with the door frame and drywall the three sides of the opening.  This will then appear as an open entrance to that part of the basement and will no longer be an independent residence.

Once the form has been submitted, a staff member will call you to arrange for payment of the utility billing exemption fee and to schedule an inspection to verify the secondary unit has been decommissioned.

Once the SDU has been decommissioned, the SDU utility billing will be removed and prorated from the date the decommission inspection was applied for.

The District reserves the right to do a future inspection to verify the suite remains decommissioned.

Forms

Please note:  These forms were designed to be attached to an email using Adobe Reader version DS.  If you do not have this version on your device, download the free upgrade.

Completed forms can be emailed to: utilityfees@mission.ca

Both the Decommissioning a Secondary Dwelling Unit form and the Application for a Secondary Dwelling Exemption require a fee of $77.44 ($73.75 plus GST).

 

Payments can be mailed to: Dropped off in person:
 Tax Department  Municipal Hall, lower floor
 PO Box 20  8645 Stave Lake St
 Mission, BC  V2V 4L9  After hours drop boxes are available

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. I received a letter that says I have a secondary dwelling but I do not have one. What do I do? Do I need to pay the Inspection fee?

A1.  There is no fee if you are reporting that your property does not have a secondary dwelling.  An inspection will be required.  While we have used the best possible data for identifying homes with secondary dwelling units, we understand some homes may have been misidentified.  If you do not have a secondary dwelling unit you can request an inspection, at no charge, to have the secondary dwelling charge removed.  Please complete the Misidentified Secondary Dwelling Unit form.

Q2. I have my elderly parents in the suite but not on title, they mostly eat their meals with us. Why can I not get an exemption?

A2. Exemptions apply to homeowners who are using the secondary dwelling for their personal use. Since the parents eat meals with the family, to avoid the double utility charge, the homeowner could decommission the secondary dwelling unit by:

  • Removing the stove and vent, disconnecting the wiring to the electrical panel; and removing the locks between the suites;

OR

  • If the homeowner wishes to keep the cooking facilities, then the home owner could remove the door separating the main dwelling with the secondary dwelling unit and drywall to make this a passage into that part of the home.

The homeowner can then apply for an inspection to decommission the secondary dwelling by filling out the decommissioning form.

Q3. My suite is being used by my 20 year old son and he is going to school. Do I qualify for an exemption?

A3. Exemptions apply to homeowners who are using the secondary dwelling for their personal use. Parents are responsible for children until the age of 19 at which time they are considered an adult. Where other government programs will cover them as part of the family unit, this program is not designed to include that level of detail in the scope. The District acknowledges the important role secondary dwelling units play with respect to affordable housing and for property owners to supplement their income. As such, Council is looking for input in order to modify secondary dwellings to consider affordability criteria. Please provide your comments to utilityfees@mission.ca.

The homeowner could decommission the secondary dwelling unit by:

  • Removing the stove and vent, disconnecting the wiring to the electrical panel; and removing the locks between the suites;

OR

  • If the homeowner wishes to keep the cooking facilities, then the home owner could remove the door separating the main dwelling with the secondary dwelling unit and drywall to make this a passage into that part of the home.
Q4. I have been told in the past by District staff that I do not need to apply for an exemption. My mother lives in the basement suite and we are both on title. Do I still require an inspection and do I need to pay the fee?
A4. Yes.  District records do not show that an exemption was applied for or granted to the owner of your property. You will need to complete an application, pay for the exemption application fee of $73.75 plus GST (Totals $77.44) and a bylaw officer will be scheduled to verify the exemption conditions.  The exemption will expire each December 31 and a renewal application will be required for each subsequent year.  There is no fee for renewal applications.
Q5. I have applied for an exemption from secondary dwelling charges and I need an inspection. How long until the inspection can take place?

A5. Our target is to contact homeowners to set up an appointment with the bylaw officer within seven days of submitting your application and paying the exemption application fee. Please know that your exemption from secondary dwelling charges will be prorated from the date you submitted your application and not the date of the inspection, so any delay will not affect the prorating of fees.

Q6. I have a basement suite but my property is not zoned for one. Will you require me to remove the suite?
A6. No, unless there are complaints that cannot be resolved related to that suite. The secondary dwelling program is designed to capture information on secondary dwelling units to reflect the use of the property from a consumption standpoint only.  It may be that the property breaches other District bylaws (e.g. Building Bylaw or Zoning Bylaw) but this is not the focus of the secondary dwelling program. The District reserves the right to enforce these bylaws, and currently does so on a complaint driven basis.
Q7. Now that the District knows I have a suite in my home, what are the benefits to me if I upgrade and make the suite legal?
A7. As a home owner you should investigate benefits of legalizing your suite (conforming to zoning bylaws and building codes) as it relates to issues such as the value of your home when selling, special considerations when applying for a mortgage, greater safety assurance for the occupants of the suite, home owner’s insurance premiums and insurance coverage should a claim be made resulting from the suite.
Q8. I do not agree with this secondary dwelling program where you charge me double for utility user fees. My wife and I live in the home and we rent our coach house to one person and I must pay double what the family next door pays and they have four kids and the grandmother living there! Who can I complain to?
A8. The secondary dwelling unit program attempts to address the additional stress put on the District’s utilities and attempts to ensure consistency and fairness of utility fees among the residences of our community. Council and staff are open to new ideas and comments of users of the program. Please e-mail your comments to utilityfees@mission.ca. The program is based on the average/typical second dwelling unit.  As with any program, it is difficult to completely address the situations.
Q9. I do not agree with this secondary dwelling program where you charge me double for the utility fees. I want to have a water meter installed. What do I do to get this to happen?
A9. The District is currently undertaking a pilot project to review water meters, and under our current program we do not allow for residential meter installation even if the homeowner is willing to pay for the costs. However, staff will be investigating metering options in 2017 and additional options may be available, subject to Council’s approval. If you have any comments or inquiries, please e-mail them to engineering@mission.ca.
Q10. I have a few concerns about the policy or the secondary dwelling program and I have some suggestions for the program. Whom should I talk to?
A10. The District always welcomes comments and suggestions on all programs and services offered. The secondary dwelling policies are all under review.  Your comments, questions and suggestions can be e-mailed to utilityfees@mission.ca.
Q11. I have completed a form on-line that requires a fee. How do I pay the fee?

A11. “Decommissioning a Secondary Dwelling Unit” and the “Application for a Secondary Dwelling Exemption” both  require a fee of $77.44 ($73.75 plus GST). Please record the civic address on your cheque when mailing or dropping off your payment.

 Payments can be mailed to: Dropped off in person:
 Tax Department  Municipal Hall, lower floor
 PO Box 20  8645 Stave Lake St
 Mission, BC  V2V 4L9  After hours drop boxes are available
Q12. Will my secondary dwelling unit have its own curbside collection?
A12. If your property has a secondary dwelling unit you can put out double the curbside collection amounts for garbage / recycling / compostables.
Q13. Can I get a free Rot Pot for my secondary dwelling unit?
A13. Yes, all single family residential units (including secondary dwelling units) located within the curbside collection area are entitled to one free Rot Pot.

Contact Information

For Information on Utility Billings & Exemptions

Tel: 604-820-3718
Email: utilityfees@mission.ca

For Information on Bylaw Enforcement

Tel: 604-820-3791
Email: bylaw@mission.ca