Surrey Spying On Illegal “Basement Millionaires” By Monitoring Rental Ads

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The City of Surrey has appointed two officers, who are working full-time to track down home owners by  spying on Craigslist’s rental section as well as going through local newspapers to find listings. Councillor Barinder Rasode says one of the main issues is the inconvenience it’s causing neighbours when it comes to parking. As a result, City Council is now looking at implementing permit-only spots in some neighbourhoods.

SURREY – The City of Surrey By-law officers have a number of new tools online and in printed local newspapers which they are using to crack down hard on people who have illegal suites in their homes.

Their target would be primarily Surrey’s large Indo-Canadian-South Asian homeowners who have created a niche of renting single and in many cases two basement suites in their large homes and whom many in the community have satirically termed as “Basement Millionaires.”

Aside from the large extended families who can pool income together to buy homes quickly than let’s say native Canadians and even other immigrants, the attraction to buying for many Indo-Canadian families is that they can make extra rental income by renting parts of their home as a mortgage helper.

But the City of Surrey, after getting pressure from non-Indo-Canadian residents about parking and traffic congestion, began cracking down on illegal suites. And to be fair, there were a small number of Indo-Canadians who were renting two or three suites in their houses which contravene building and other City codes.

To continue their search for illegala suites, Surrey is now getting aggressive with having two dedicated officers working full-time to track down home owners by  spying on Craigslist’s rental section as well as going through local newspapers to find listings.

Councillor Barinder Rasode told News 1130 that one of the main issues is the inconvenience it’s causing neighbours when it comes to parking. As a result, City Council is now looking at implementing permit-only spots in some neighbourhoods.

“I think we have to be very mindful about what sort of impact secondary suites have on a neighbourhood. But what we’re saying is if you’re a home owner who chooses to have a suite, then we expect you to pay your fair share,” Rasode said.

She adds it’s a delicate situation. “We also recognize the people who rent the secondary suites and that it’s of no fault of their’s that the home owner has chosen to do an illegal suite and then you’re displacing families and seniors.”

Anyone with a secondary suite simply has to register it with the City of Surrey and pay $400 fee. If they’re caught with an illegal one, they can be fined $1,000.

Since the beginning of the year, when a new by-law came into effect, about 3,000 people have registered. But Rasode hopes that number will go up.

Secondary suites are legal in other parts of the province like in Victoria, Vancouver, and West Vancouver, reported News 1130.