Renting your Kitsilano Basement Suite


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Renting your Basement to UBC Students

School has started, and but don’t think that the chances of renting your Kitsilano basement suite to a UBC student are over – many will be looking for a new place for January 1st. It’s a very common process in Kits to rent out basements and suites to students (they’re known as “mortgage helpers”), so there are lots of resources to help you do so. Students can be a good tenant – they understand the benefits of a good place, and many, especially older grad students, will be quiet and respectful, especially if it’s a one bedroom unit. Renting a whole floor of your investment property to a group of friends can cause some issues, but in general, it’s a great way to earn some extra money. If you’re willing to put in a little bit of work to host an international home stay student, it can be rewarding. A few things to know going into it:

The Positive Reasons to Rent your Basement Suite

– The extra money! Depending on the size of the suite, the condition of the suite, the location and the amenities (i.e. in suite laundry?) will determine how much money you can make. Given the high demand for student housing near UBC, and especially in popular Kitsilano, a reasonable estimate is to expect to get anywhere from $700 and up.

– The rewarding feeling: If you find a good tenant that stays with you for a few years, it can be very rewarding. I’ve known people who have tenants that babysit their children (for a fee) which is very convenient and comfortable for all involved.

– Renovating: You’ll most likely have to renovate the suite to bring it up to decent standards (especially if you want to ask for a higher rent). This could include anything from new paint, new fixtures, new flooring, improved electrical or an updated kitchen. In the end, this will benefit you as you’ll have a nice space to use for your own family when you need it, or it will look good when it comes to re-sale.

The Negative Reasons to Rent your Basement Suite

– The lack of privacy: all of a sudden you’ll have a student on your property at any time of the day or night, and even though you can request quiet at night and no parties, this person can reasonably be expected to bring back friends.

– The lack of space: Renting out your basement suite means a portion of your house is not usable until that person vacates. Depending on the layout of the suite, it could cut into the amount of storage you have, and you may be sharing your laundry with this student.

– Managing the space: you’ll have to ensure the space is functioning properly. As a landlord, the tenant can call you at any time with an issue, a leak, etc that will need to be fixed.


Decisions in Renting your Suite

– Will you offer in suite laundry, or share your own laundry facilities?

– Will internet, cable and phone be a part of the rent?

– Will it be furnished? This is especially helpful for international students, and newcomers to the city.

– What rules will you enforce? Quiet times (at night), no drugs, no smoking, no parties, etc.

– Will they have a parking spot or will they have to park on the street

– Will you allow pets?

Advertising your Basement Suite

There are many ways to advertise your basement suite for rent, especially depending on the demographic you’re after. Craigslist seems to be the most popular way as you’ll attract anyone – students, professionals and newcomers to the city. Other outlets include:

– University, College, Grad Student and International School/Language School Notice Boards

Kijiji, Rent BC, Places 4 Students, VRBO and AirBnB (if you’re okay with shorter stays) and of course Craigslist, your own Facebook page (you never know how far your message will spread through your network of friends )

– Otherwise, if you had a good relationship with your previous tenant, ask them to to tell their friends, or post on their Facebook. They’ll likely be friends with other students who are looking for a place.


Being a Landlord

The most important thing you can do it to familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant rules and regulations, including zoning, fire code and municipal bylaws regarding legal suites. Many, many suites in Kitsilano are not legal – either previous owners haven’t gone through the city process to get the legalization, or the suit would need some work to be legal (i.e. higher ceilings, larger doorways, etc). There are quite a few good websites with information, FAQ, and even blank standard contracts to use.

BC Residential Tenancy Branch

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. 

Important Tips in Renting out your Basement Suite

There are a few things beyond getting a tenant into your basement suite that you’ll need to be aware of:

Insurance: Ensure that your tenant has tenant insurance (this can be part of the contract) that will cover damages, accidents and their own personal belongings. This is very important to avoid huge hassles and monetary battles down the road. Ensure that you let your insurance company know that you have a rental suite as you’ll need different insurance as well.

Income Tax: If you’re charging rent, you’ll have to claim the rental income on your tax return, and once it’s profitable, you’ll have to claim a portion of the profit as capital gain, which may be taxed further (eating iny our profits). This is  a reality of renting your suite.

Final Thoughts on Renting your Basement Suite

Renting your basement suite can be rewarding financially and emotionally if you have a great tenant. Though this process comes with responsibility and regulation that you need to follow. Ensure you have done your research and crunched your numbers – this is supposed to be profitable, so the rent you charge will have to cover all your expenses, and more.



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