Purchasing a Home with Rental Potential



I’ve always found the rise and fall of housing trends in Greater Victoria incredibly interesting. Of course, staying on top of these patterns is also a vital aspect of our career. One surging trend in the Victoria housing market is the in-law suite – and I believe this one has real staying power.

“In-law suite” is the name most commonly given to self-contained apartments within a larger home, whether or not the occupants happen to be in-laws. Family custom is, however, one of the main reasons for the growing popularity of these secondary suites. While there have always been those who value multi-generational living, their number is steadily increasing as Victoria continues to receive the most family-related immigration in Canada. For many of our newcomers, living in close proximity to grandparents or extended family is the cultural norm.

The other significant group interested in secondary suites are those who have realized the terrific income potential of such spaces. With its many contract workers and post-secondary students, Victoria has no shortage of renters. While zoning by-laws make secondary suites a no-no in some jurisdictions, the City of Victoria has no such restrictions, as long as by-law conditions are followed.

More often than not, in-law suites are basement apartments, although they’re occasionally located on the second or third floors. They possess private entrances, bathrooms, kitchens and sometimes laundry facilities.

Renovating an existing home to accommodate a separate suite can be expensive, and unforeseen complications may arise. The beautiful thing about including a secondary suite when purchasing a new home is that you can have everything built to your specifications, rather than being limited by the existing structure. Some builders make a specialty of in-law suite homes, with a portfolio of available plans, but others are happy to alter standard plans for a fee. A few things to consider:
  • Basement apartments aren’t noted for their great natural light. Invest in great lighting, making good use of pot lights. Where possible, install larger-than-typical windows.

  • Include a bathtub in the bathroom to appeal to as many tenants as possible.

  • Features such as a double driveway, soundproofing panels and separate gas and electrical meters can make everyone’s lives easier.

With a thoughtfully designed suite, the income – or the in-laws – will be sure to roll in to your Victoria Home!

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