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Coquitlam Cracking Down on Illegal Secondary Suites: City Official

This article originally appeared on
By Gary McKenna Sep 19, 2016's sister website the Tri City News. To read the original article, click here - and for more news and comment, go to

A crackdown is coming in Coquitlam on illegal secondary suites.

Stephanie James, the city’s acting director of legal and bylaw enforcement, said staff will focus on rental and real estate advertisements promoting secondary suites in residences where they are not allowed.

“Enforcement is being ramped up for the impermissible suites and that’s where the vast majority of our ticketing has occurred and where our proactive efforts are focused,” she said in an email. “Our bylaw enforcement staff will be combing through Craigslist and MLS with a focus on the impermissible suites only.”

James added that single-family homes are only allowed to have one suite while suites in multi-family homes, like duplexes and townhouses, are prohibited. Homeowners with illegal suites could receive a fine.

But James defined the differences between permissible and impermissible suites.

Some residents are allowed to have a secondary unit as long as they have a building permit and are in compliance with building and zoning bylaws and have appropriate parking, she explained. In those instances, city staff will work with the homeowner to educate them and ensure they conform with the regulations. 

“We want secondary suites to provide safe and affordable housing options in our community,” she said. “By ensuring that property owners are aware of and comply with municipal regulations, we are working towards that outcome.”

Coquitlam’s secondary suite program was launched in 1999. The city said the goal of the program is to give homeowners the option of renting out a portion of their property while protecting their neighbourhood from increased parking congestion.

In a media release last week, staff said illegal suites can pose safety risks for the occupants of the home and can invalidate homeowners’ insurance.

For more information on Coquitlam’s secondary suite program, go to

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