Two homeowners are being told to legitimize illegal suites found in their Creekside duplex.
“This is the kind of thing we have to ensure we do not encourage, but enforce against, so property owners understand our concern with public safety,” Mayor Ken Melamed said at a show cause hearing Monday.
Other councillors around the table echoed similar comments of safety during the hearing Monday night, and council unanimously voted to put a registered notice on the property’s title.
Councillor Bob Lorriman added: “Personally, I find it so distasteful that people would actually build these suites and charge rent for places that don’t even have windows.”
Both suites at the basement level of 2247 Olive Terrace did not have windows, and all construction was done without building permits and building inspections. The entrance to the first suite was through the main house, and the other was via the outside deck.
Homeowners, George and Sheri MacLeod of Cocquitlam, did not attend the show case hearing.
Joe Mooney, manager of building services for the municipality, said the registered notice on title cannot force the homeowners to renovate the space.
“If they don’t want to do it, the only way we can get them to do it is to go to the courts and ask the courts to make them do it,” said Mooney.
“We put aside $30,000-plus for injunctive relief if we want to go to injunction. It may cost less, or it may cost more, but we have to plan for that kind of cost to force an owner to do the work, and we just don’t have that kind of taxpayer’s money to throw around to force them to do it.”
He said the notice on title is to alert homeowners that the municipality is aware of their illegal spaces.
“This piece of legislation says you did work that needs a building permit, and you did not get it, and now we are putting you on notice that we know about it, and you know about it,” said Mooney.
“They take full responsibility for it now. They cannot argue that this work was done without a permit. If they try and sell it to someone else, it is on the title and the next owner knows about it as well.”
Even though the municipality first received an e-mail alerting them to the illegal suites last year, they only were allowed access by Sheri MacLeod in February. Mooney said no one was living in the suites during the inspection and there was no indication that “people had been living there for some time.” Letters asking for access were sent to George and Sheri MacLeod on May 15, Aug. 27 and Jan. 23.