SRA Bylaw

Summary of Vancouver’s SRA Bylaw in plain language – short and long versions

Full version and edits here

Short Summary of Single Room Accommodation Bylaw (SRA) enacted October 23, 2003.

  1. This bylaw applies to SRO buildings in the “downtown core” which includes the DTES, and units that are smaller than 320 square feet.
  2. Owners can apply for exemption on approval by Council and with a city inspection.
  3. SRO units cannot be converted or demolished without a conversion or demolition permit. An owner may apply to the Chief Housing Officer for a permit to convert or demolish a designated room if:
    1. the applicant provides social housing;
    2. the conversion or demolition is to upgrade a designated room to add bathroom and cooking facilities;
    3. the designated room will be used as social housing after the conversion or demolition;
    4. the upgraded designated room is secured as social housing through a housing agreement (legally registered on title).
  4. To apply for a permit, owners need to provide a permit, an affidavit, records of finances from the last three to four years, other information that Council for the Chief Housing Officer requires, and an application fee of $1,000 for the first 10 rooms and $100 for each additional room to a maximum of $6,000.
  5. When deciding on an application for a conversion or demolition permit, Council or the Chief Housing Officer must consider the recent history of the land and building, and how that building is used and occupied.
  6. Conditions of the conversion/demolition permit – Council or the Chief Housing Officer may:
    1. require the owner to pay into a city reserve fund that will provide replacement accommodation, of $125,000.00 for each designated room;
    2. require the owner to enter into a heritage revitalization agreement with the city (to restore, preserve and protect the building and/or specified heritage features) or obtain a heritage alteration permit (development process reviewed by a City heritage planner);
    3. allow repairs and alterations in rooms if the owner:
      1. locates comparable or better accommodation at a comparable or lesser rent for the permanent resident of the designated room while it is being repaired or renovated;
      2. arranges for the re-location of the permanent resident to such comparable accommodation, and pays actual moving expenses;
      3. promises that, after the repairs or alteration are done, the owner will rent the designated room to a permanent resident; and
      4. gives the permanent resident re-located the “first right of refusal” to re-rent their designated room, after the repairs or alterations, at the same rent the permanent resident paid before the repair or alteration, arranges for the return of the permanent resident to his or her designated room, and pays actual moving expenses;
    4. the owner must agree to allow city employees, from time to time and at any reasonable time, to enter the building to inspect the building and its rooms to make sure it complies with the bylaw.
  7. The permit is valid for 24 months after conversion or demolition starts within a year of permit issue and can be extended on approval by Council. If the permit expires then it can’t be used anymore.
  8. This bylaw is enforced by the Director of Licenses and Inspections. Each offence is subject to a fine of $500-$10,000.

Long Summary of Single Room Accommodation Bylaw (SRA) enacted October 23, 2003.

Interpretation:

Building is defined in s2.2 (we’ll get there in a minute)

A conversion or convert means:

  1. a change in the way the building is lived in, from a long-term tenant for a permanent resident to a short-term tenant (like in a hotel) or some other kind of tenancy,
  2. a change in the tenant’s rights as to the nature of their tenancy or term of their stay
  3. a change in now often a tenant has to pay for the room
  4. using, or allowing the use of vacant rooms by someone other than a permanent resident
  5. renovating a room, except if it is for minor repairs that are for the benefit of permanent residents
  6. reclassifying a building from resident to a different class
  7. loss of a single occupancy room because it becomes a hotel room

A demolition means to knock or tear down a building

A designated room means it is designated under s2.2 as single room occupation (be patient, we’re getting there!)

A living accommodation means it is used for living in, sleeping or sitting in

An owner is a person who is registered as the owner of the building or leases land with a building etc.

A permanent resident is one who lives in the room, pays rent and does so for at least 30 days

Rent is what you pay that gives you the right to live in the room

A room includes connecting rooms, cooking facilities and bathroom facilities if they are in one unit

A transient guest uses a room, pays rent and does so for fewer than 30 days.

Section 2

Application of the bylaw

s2.1 The bylaw applies to the downtown core, bounded by Burrard Inlet, to the west by the centre line of Burrard Street, to the south by False Creek and the centre line of Terminal Avenue, and to the east by the centre line of Clark Drive.

s2.2 (here at last): Council has made a list of which rooms in the downtown core are considered single room occupancy. And it’s way at the end of the document in Schedule A. (so, was this section worth waiting for? I thought not.)

Notice of designation:

s2.3 If rooms in a building are designated as SROs, owners must post a notice where everyone can see it, and it’s got to look like the one in Schedule B. (Yep, also at the bottom of the pile if you want to see it.)

SECTION 3

EXEMPTIONS

Application for exemption

s3.1 If an owner wants to get out of the rules of this bylaw, they can apply to Council if, after this bylaw becomes law,:

(a) in their building, all the designated rooms are bigger than 320 square feet;

(b) a designated room is bigger than 320 square feet;

  1. c) an owner, manager, or operator of a designated room that consists of more than 320 square feet.

[I don’t know what C means, or why it is different from a or b]

Exemption application requirements

s3.2 If owners want to get an exemption, they have to fill out a lot of paperwork, and also give up their firstborn children.

Exemption notice and inspection

3.3 If an owner applies for an exemption, they have to let a city inspector inspect the building and designated rooms that are the subject of the exemption.

Exemption approval

3.4 If an owner meets all the criteria, the Council has to give them an exemption.

Lapse of application for exemption

3.5 If the owner doesn’t meet all the criteria within 12 months of applying for an exemption, that’s the end of their application.

Application of exemption

3.6 If an exemption is approved by Council, it is only good as long as the requirements and conditions of exemption set out in section 3.1 continue to apply after the grant of the exemption. If any such requirements or conditions cease to apply, the exemption is to have no further force or effect.

(I think this means that as long as the conditions of the exemption are the same, the exemption will continue to apply)

SECTION 4

CONVERSION OR DEMOLITION

Regulation of conversion or demolition

4.1 A person must not:

(a) try to get a permit under any city bylaw in connection with the conversion or demolition of a designated room;

(b) attempt to convert or demolish a designated room; or

(c) convert or demolish a designated room;

unless the owner:

(d) obtains a conversion or demolition permit;

(e) complies with this bylaw; and  

(f) fulfils all conditions of the conversion or demolition permit required by Council before any other permit is issued.

Application to Council for conversion or demolition permit

4.2 An owner may apply to Council for a permit to convert or demolish a designated room, subject to the rules in 4.3

Application to Chief Housing Officer for conversion or demolition permit  

4.3 Despite the provisions of section 4.2, an owner may apply to the Chief Housing Officer for a permit to convert or demolish a designated room if:

(a) the applicant provides social housing;

(b) the conversion or demolition is to upgrade a designated room to add bathroom and cooking facilities;

(c) the designated room will be used as social housing after the conversion or demolition; and

(d) the upgraded designated room is secured as social housing through a housing agreement (legally registered on title) to the satisfaction of the Director of Legal Services.

[So, long story short, if you are wanting to convert or demolish a registered building, you have to apply to City Council – unless you are making the changes in order to provide social housing, in which case you can apply to the Chief Housing Officer]

Conversion or demolition permit application requirements

4.4 A person applying for a conversion or demolition permit, under either sections 4.2 or 4.3, must give the Chief Housing Officer:

(a) a proper permit

(b) an affidavit (sworn statement) by the owner or, if the owner is a corporation, by a director of the corporation, setting out why the owner wants to convert or demolish the designated room;

(c) records including guest ledgers and rent rolls, for the then current calendar year and for the three immediately preceding calendar years, in respect of the designated room, as the Chief Housing Officer or Council may require;

(d) other information that Council for the Chief Housing Officer requires

(e) for an application pursuant to section 4.2, in addition to any application or other fee levied under any other city bylaw, a non-refundable application fee of:

(i) $1,000.00 in respect of the first 10 designated rooms, and

(ii) $100.00 in respect of each additional designated room to a maximum of $6,000.00; and

(f) for an application pursuant to section 4.3, in addition to any application or other fee levied under any other city by-law, a non-refundable application fee of:

(i)$1,000.00 in respect of the first 10 designated rooms, and $100.00 in respect of the first 10 designated rooms, and

(ii) $10.00 in respect of each additional designated room to a maximum of $600.00.

Conversion or demolition permit notice and inspection

4.5 An applicant for a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room must allow a city inspector to:

(a) inspect the designated room; and

(b) post a notice of the application where everyone can see it at the front desk or in the lobby or public entrance of the building that contains the designated room.

Consideration of conversion or demolition permit application

4.6 When deciding on an application for a conversion or demolition permit, Council or the Chief Housing Officer must consider the recent history of the land and building, and how that building is used and occupied

Issuance of conversion or demolition permit

4.7 Council or the Chief Housing Officer may:

(a) make the owner meet certain conditions before giving conversion or demolition permit, and issue the conversion or demolition permit only if the owner fulfills those conditions within 12 months after receiving notice of them;

(b) issue the conversion or demolition permit but attach conditions to it;

(c) issue the conversion or demolition permit; or

(d) refuse to issue the conversion or demolition permit.

Conversion or demolition permit conditions

4.8 In addition to the conditions set out in section 193D(5) of the Vancouver Charter, Council or the Chief Housing Officer may:

(a) as a condition of approving a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room, require the owner to pay into a city reserve fund that will provide accommodation in place of the accommodation the owner intends to convert or demolish, of $15,000.00 for each designated room;

(b) as a condition of approving a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room, require the owner to enter into a heritage revitalization agreement with the city under section 592 of  the Vancouver Charter or obtain a heritage alteration permit under section 597 of the Vancouver Charter;

(c) as a condition of approving a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room, require the owner to grant the city a section 219 covenant to promise to meet the conditions attached to the conversion or demolition permit;

(d) as a condition of approving a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room, require the owner to execute and deliver to the city any instrument required by Council or the Chief Housing Officer as a condition of approving a conversion or demolition permit in form and substance satisfactory to the city’s Director of Legal Services, and register such instrument in the Vancouver/New Westminster Land Title Office against title to the parcel of land on which the designated room is situate with priority of registration satisfactory to the city’s Director of Legal Services;

(e) as a condition attached to a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room, allow the owner to repair or alter the designated room or the fixtures in it if the owner:

(i) locates comparable or better accommodation at a comparable or lesser rent for the permanent resident of the designated room while it is being repaired or renovated,

(ii) arranges for the re-location of the permanent resident to such comparable accommodation, and pays actual moving expenses,

(iii) promises that, after the repairs or alteration are done, the owner will rent the designated room to a permanent resident, and

(iv) gives the permanent resident re-located under section 4.6(f)(ii) the first right of refusal to re-rent his or her designated room, after the repairs or alterations, at the same rent the permanent resident paid before the repair or alteration, arranges for the return of the permanent resident to his or her designated room, and pays actual moving expenses;

(f) as a condition attached to a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room, the owner must agree to allow city employees, from time to time and at any reasonable time, to enter the building containing the designated room to inspect the building and its rooms to make sure it complies with the bylaw.

Effect of conversion or demolition permit

4.9 An owner who obtains a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room may convert or demolish the designated room only in accordance with:

(a) the conversion or demolition permit and any conditions attached to it;

(b) rules set out in any instrument or heritage alteration permit required under section 4.8 or other instrument required as a condition of issuance of, or condition attached, to the conversion or demolition permit; and

(c) other by-laws of and permits issued by the city; unless Council or the Chief Housing Officer, under section 4.11, revokes the conversion or demolition permit.

Validity of conversion or demolition permit

4.10 A conversion or demolition permit is valid for 12 months from the date of its issuance unless:

(a) within that 12 month period, the permit holder has lawfully started the conversion or demolition allowed in the permit, in which case the conversion or demolition permit is valid for 24 months from the date of its issuance;

(b) within that 24 month period, the owner completes the conversion or demolition in compliance with the requirements of all city bylaws and permits for the work of the conversion or demolition;

  1. c) Council or the Chief Housing Officer renews the conversion or demolition permit for 12 months or less as Council or the Chief Housing Officer considers reasonable in the circumstances; or

(d) Council or the Chief Housing Officer, as a condition of issuing the conversion or demolition permit, establishes another period of time during which the conversion or demolition permit is to be valid.

Revocation of conversion or demolition permit

4.11 If a person doesn’t comply with the rules for fixing or demolishing a designated room or if the conversion or demolition permit was issued on the basis of false, incorrect or misleading information, Council or the Chief Housing Officer may take back the permit.

Effect of revocation or expiry

4.12 If a conversion or demolition permit expires, then the permit is dead and the owner can’t use it anymore.

Other permits

4.13 Just because an owner has a conversion or demolition permit, it doesn’t mean they won’t need other permits or have to pay other fees.

Accessory or amenity space

4.14 The definition of “conversion” or “convert” in section 1.2 does not include providing other kinds of space (accessory or amenity) if:

(a) the Chief Housing Officer is satisfied that the accessory or amenity space is solely for the use or benefit of the permanent residents of the designated building, and consists of a use such as a kitchen, television room, medical room, or counselling office;

(b) if required by the Chief Housing Officer, the owner gives a legal promise to secure the accessory or amenity space solely for the permanent residents and registers that promise in the Vancouver/New Westminster Land Title Office against the land title to the parcel of land which the building sits on with priority of registration satisfactory to the city’s Director of Legal Services; and

(c) the number of rooms used, or renovated for use, for such purpose does not exceed 10% of all designated rooms in the building.

Lapse of application for permit

4.15 If the owner does not fulfil the conditions referred to in section 4.7(a) within the later of 12 months after receiving notice of them and the date the development permit lapses or if Council or the Chief Housing Officer refuses to issue the conversion of demolition permit under section 4.7(d), the application for the permit is dead.

SECTION 5

INSPECTIONS AND RECORDS

Inspections

5.1 The Director of Licenses and Inspections can order inspections to make sure the bylaw rules are being carried out, and to find out if any person is breaking the bylaw.

Maintenance of records

5.2 An owner must keep, in the building, records about each designated room for the current year and the three previous years

(a) a room registration form, in the form attached to this bylaw as Schedule C, completed for each occupant of each designated room;

(b) property tax assessment records;

(c) guest ledgers; and

(d) rent receipts showing the room number, name of each permanent resident or transient guest, amount of rent, and period of time to which the rent payment applies.

Inspection of records

5.3 An owner obliged, under section 5.2, to maintain records must show them to the Director of Licenses and Inspections if asked to.

SECTION 6

ENFORCEMENT

Assignment of enforcement powers or duties

6.1 The Director of Licenses and Inspections is to enforce this Bylaw.

Enforcement powers

6.2 The Director of Licenses and Inspections may order a person to:

(a) stop doing any work or using or occupying any land or building or doing anything that is in contravention of this bylaw or any condition attached to a conversion or demolition permit; or

(b) carry out any work or do anything to bring any land or building into conformity with this Bylaw, or into conformity with any conditions in a conversion or demolition permit.

Delivery of order, direction, or notice

6.3 The Director of Licenses and Inspections may effectively deliver an order, direction, or notice by mailing it by registered post to the owner named in the records of the Assessment Authority of British Columbia at the address listed in those records, and the owner will be deemed to have received the order, direction, or notice within 48 hours after the date and time of mailing.

Offences under By-law

6.4 A person who:

(a) violates any provision of this bylaw, or does any act or thing which violates any provision of this by-law, or lets any other person to do any act or thing which violates any provision of this Bylaw;

(b) doesn’t do anything required to be done by any provision of this Bylaw;  

(c) fails to comply with an order, direction, or notice given under any provision of this By-law, or lets any other person to fail to comply with an order, direction, or notice in this By-law; or

(d) breaches, or allows the breach of, a condition attached to a conversion or demolition permit; is guilty of an offence against this By-law, and liable to the penalties imposed under this Section 6.

Separate offences

6.5 An offence against this By-law in respect of more than one designated room is a separate offence in respect of each designated room.

Fine for offence

6.6 Every person who commits an offence against this By-law is punishable on conviction by a fine of not less than $500.00 and not more than $10,000.00 for each offence.

Fine for continuing offence

6.7 Every person who commits an offence of a continuing nature against this bylaw is liable to a fine not less than $500.00 and not more than $10,000.00 for each day such offence continues.

SECTION 7

FORCE AND EFFECT OF BY-LAW

Force and effect

7.1 This By-law is to come into force and take effect on the date of its enactment.


ENACTED by Council this 21st day of October, 2003

 (Signed)  Larry W. Campbell  

Mayor

 (Signed)             ΑSyd Baxter

City Clerk

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