Burnaby charging landlords $570/year for licence replacing 'stove tax'

Cost to landlords with tenants will remain the same, but homeowners with unrented suites will save money

The City of Burnaby is sending declaration forms to local homeowners to determine who needs to buy a $570 business licence to rent out their property. 

Starting next year, all landlords who rent out a detached home or duplex in Burnaby will have to purchase the annual house rental business licence. They will also have to pay a one-time $50 application fee. 

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All owners will be required to fill out the declaration by Nov. 30 – or face a $1,000 fee. 

The new system replaces annual sewer and water surcharges totalling $569 that were previously charged to homeowners with secondary suites, regardless of whether they rented it out. 

Mayor Mike Hurley has said the extra utility fees a "stove tax" (for the way it was applied) and said it was unfair to homeowners who have secondary suites but lack a rental income, particularly if those suites are occupied by family members.

The city sent out similar declaration forms earlier this year and later refunded the utility surcharge to more than 1,900 homeowners who said they did not charge rent on their secondary suites. 

The new business licence will be required for all homeowners who intend to rent out all or part of their home for any amount of time in 2020, and do not live on the premises.

“Previously, homeowners who rented out their home when not living on the premises avoided paying supplementary utility fees, while homeowners who rented out a suite were subject to an additional charge. This change now ensures equity in the treatment of these two groups,” states a City of Burnaby press release.

If a homeowner declares she or he doesn’t intend to rent out their suite next year, but then changes plans, they will be required to tell the city and pay the $570 fee, according to a city staff report. 

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