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If Surrey has illegal suites, landlords want to know why the city collected money on them

Click to play video: 'Frustration over Surrey crackdown on illegal suites' Frustration over Surrey crackdown on illegal suites
Surrey landlords are accusing city hall of cashing in on the same illegal suites they’re trying to shut down. Grace Ke has the details – Oct 23, 2017

The City of Surrey may be about to put the tenants of 175 illegal suites in the Clayton Heights neighbourhood out of their homes and into a punishing rental market.

The move is on hold — but in the meantime, some homeowners want to know why the city has been collecting fees on the suites if they’re not legal.

WATCH: The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo

Click to play video: 'The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo' The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo
The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo – Sep 15, 2017

Greg Garner is one of them.

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In 2014, he and his neighbour Richard Von Sychkowski received a letter from the city saying that they hadn’t registered the basement suites in their homes.

They were fined $1,000, and made to pay a fee for the suites. But they weren’t told to rid themselves of the illegal units.

READ MORE: Surrey cracks down on illegal suites, pushing 175 households into punishing rental market

“As far as I was concerned, that legalized the suite because why would they accept money for illegal behaviour,” Garner said.

WATCH: The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo

Click to play video: 'The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo' The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo
The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo – Sep 15, 2017

The city, however, said there’s legal precedent for collecting fees on such suites — the revenue goes to pay for infrastructure and utilities.

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The City of Surrey also hadn’t been cracking down on such suites because of a shortage of rentals.

“We don’t want to kick people out, so if there’s a suite there, and there’s a parking problem or it’s causing other nuisance issues, we’ll try to resolve them,” Jas Rehal, Surrey’s manager of public safety operations, told Global News.

The crackdown on illegal suites in Clayton Heights was launched last month because of complaints about parking.

Recent years have seen 7,600 parking complaints and violations, and the city hasn’t managed to solve the problem.

“If [issues] do not get resolved, we’ll have to take enforcement action,” Rehal said.

READ MORE: Surrey renters concerned over illegal suite evictions to converge on city hall

Von Sychkowski is concerned about the difficulty that tenants could encounter trying to find another place to live.

“You’ve got people where there’s a vacancy rate in the rental market of less than one per cent” he said.

“Where are people going to live? There’s a clear need for these suites.”

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