B.C. launches home permitting portal, home-owner suite rental guide

B.C.’s premier says starting in the spring, homeowners looking to turn their basements into rental suites for the first time could get up to $40,000 in government loans, but only if they rent them out below market price. Kier Junos reports.

The B.C. government is looking to make life easier for potential landlords and builders, as it launches a new one-stop-shop to navigate provincial permitting and a guide for new would-be landlords.

In an announcement Monday, ahead of the beginning of the Union of BC Municipalities meeting, Premier David Eby says the new measures will help create more housing for folks across the province.

“People in our province deserve a decent place to live they can actually afford to rent or buy, but a chronic housing shortage and long permit approval times are frustrating that achievable goal,” said Eby.

“Our government is taking action. We’re making it easier and faster to get provincial permits to build new homes, and offering financial support for people who could build a suite they can rent out at more affordable rates. We’ve got lots to do, which is why we’re focusing on initiatives like these that make a real and tangible difference for thousands of families.”

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The province will be launching the Single Housing Application Service, where the service will connect homebuilders with dedicated “navigators”, who will guide applicants through all stages of the permit applications. It will also function as the single point of contact for all information regarding permits and permitting decisions, the province explains.

“Our government is laser-focused on taking action on housing,” said Nathan Cullen, minister of water, land and resource stewardship. “One way we’re doing this is by eliminating the current permitting backlog and speeding up homebuilding project approvals with the launch of a user-friendly tool that connects people to project experts.”

The government says the second initiative, which centres on secondary suites, comes ahead of planned legislation to be tabled in the fall which looks to make secondary suites legal throughout the province.

The initiative ahead of this legislation, “Home Suite Home,” will give people information to prepare to build and manage a rental suite in the province.

“The guide can be used as a resource for people preparing to access the Secondary Suite Incentive Program (SSIP). The pilot program, set to launch in early spring 2024, will provide approximately 3,000 homeowners with forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to create a new secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit on their property.

“The loans will only go to properties that will be rented below market rates. Additional eligibility requirements of the program have been made available so people interested can prepare ahead of the launch,” the province explained in a statement.

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