New home unit rules could help apartment-seekers in Charlottetown

The City of Charlottetown is one step closer to implementing new regulations that just might help more people in Charlottetown find an apartment.

Requires minimum stay for tenants in a basement unit

Facing a low a vacancy rate, Charlottetown city council is proposing new rules for basement apartments. (PadMapper)

The City of Charlottetown is one step closer to implementing new regulations that just might help more people in Charlottetown find an apartment.

The new regulations lay out the rules for setting up so-called accessory apartments — units in a home, such as a basement apartment. The new rules passed first reading at Wednesday's council meeting.

"The owner of the home or someone that is a long-term renter has to occupy the main dwelling in order to have the accessory apartment built or added to the house," said Coun. Greg Rivard.

There has to be an additional parking space and if it is on the home's front lawn, only 40 per cent of the lawn can be paved, Rivard said.

There will also be a minimum requirement for how long the tenant stays.

"We're thinking 30 days," Rivard said.

Registry of accessory apartments

Accessory apartments inside a home could help alleviate Charlottetown's no-vacancy problem, Rivard said.

"It's certainly not the solution, but it's a step in the right direction — a way of increasing density without changing streetscapes."

Council had previously passed its new zoning and development bylaw, except for the provisions about accessory apartments — that was deferred for further discussion.

Homeowners who want to have an accessory apartment must apply for a permit and will be added to a registry, Rivard said. The unit must comply with fire and building codes to get a permit.

The registry will be online so people seeking a place to live can use it, Rivard said.

Goes to second reading Sept. 10

"For all those apartments out there — which we know there's a lot in town now that are illegal or non-conforming — there's also going to be an opportunity for them to come in and register, meet the fire code and make things safe for residents," Rivard said.

A second reading of the regulations is planned for council's meeting Sept. 10.

In terms of enforcement, Rivard said the city will monitor the situation if the rules pass but added, "The public tend to be the best police of things like this."

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With files from Jessica Doria-Brown


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