This is just a quickie post to get down some basic information relevant to introducing secondary suites into Christchurch and Lyttleton Harbour (the latter being covered by the Banks Penninsula – BP -District Plan – the former by the CCC Plan)
First, what I am calling “secondary suites”, the CCC Plan and BP plan calls “family flats”. There is a very helpful pamphlet published by the CCC “So you want to build a family flat” that sets out the ground rules. There is also a “bond contract/agreement” , creating a legal obligation or “encumbrance” to be signed by anyone planning to create a family flat. (These documents are also available at the City’s website.) But the long and short of it (the existing regulations) is :
- a family flat/secondary suite can be inside an existing dwelling – perhaps from converting or developing (according to regular building codes) say internal rooms and living spaces into “separate” living facilities – or external to an existing residential dwelling – the cottage in the back yard , or a semi detached building.
- the residential unit is only defined as a family flat/secondary suite if it contains a kitchen – bedrooms ,bathrooms, laundries, living rooms, games rooms, studies, garages, and all other aspects of typical residential space for living all seem to be fine
- What’s a kitchen? A kitchen is not defined in the city plan – however the guidelines in the pamphlet say that it a kitchen contains all three of a sink, a bench and “facilities that allow cooking equipment to be set up” – legal advice that I have had seems to think that since toasters, kettles, microwaves, refrigerators, and all kinds of portable plug-in appliances are in widespread use throughout the city’s residences and B&B’s , that cooking equipment here is most likely operationally defined as fixed cooking equipment such as an hobbs and/or oven with fixed specialized wiring (This makes sense since the draconian powers of remedy for the Council include charging you for “removing” the cooking equipment deemed to be in breach – hardly a problem for a plug-in appliance – but don’t quote me on that – even the legal advisor I discussed couldn’t tell me for sure!)
- What “categories” of people can live in the residence? Living (which I guess means using the kitchen cooking facilities – since everything else in relation to using residential space is more or less permitted !) is narrowly restricted to a “dependent family member” . Note that this “user type restriction” differs from regulations for B&B’s , Holiday home, and Homestay accommodation in Christchurch . These regulations permit , as an accepted – “by-right” – residential activity, as many as 4 “paying” people in any type of standard residential living zone in the City (how many nonpaying people??) . Such visitors guests … don’t have to be related by family connections in any way whatsoever – just as in the standard student or professional flatting arrangements where no family connection is required, or often desired. Whether or how these types of regulations on “acceptable people” are enforced or not is a complete unknown, since there is no registration requirement for either home stay or holiday home or B&B short stay or flatting type rental accommodation, and even if there were who could verify/dispute a claim, easily? No one knows how much, or how little, of this private accommodation activity goes on in the City. If the experiences of other cities where accommodation is in short supply is any indication, it will be a quantitatively significant activity. For example more than half of all homes and more than 2/3 of all new homes in some well established residential areas of Vancouver engage in secondary suites accommodation service supply. Word “on the street” in Christchurch is that everyone who knows anyone at High School will have heard of the lucrative weekly income that comes form having students on short or long home stays.
- a $5000 bond “without cash” must be formally posted, registered through a solicitor – at your expense – for a hefty $400-500 transaction fee with the City, and the “agreement” between you and the City must have the consent of the institutions holding your mortgage! . In case of breach of the conditions for having a family flat this is a legally binding penalty that the City can enforce; the “agreement” also includes rights for the City to monitor, inspect, and forcibly shut down any activities inspectors deem to be breaching the family flat agreement; it is an obligation that is attached to the property, not the person – so any prospective buyer will be taking on such a registered obligation. With these kinds of restrictions one can see why people or households who would otherwise love to have a family flat (read second cooking facilities) , even for for family members, much less a secondary suite, for anyone else, paying or not, simply wouldn’t register it!!
- 65 sq metres is a maximum size (for either an internal or an external unit)
It is worth mentioning that the provisions of the new temporary accommodation regulations approved by Council and Cear define an accommodation unit much more liberally : “a structure of no more than 150m² in gross floor area for the purpose of providing temporary residential accommodation. The unit may include facilities normally associated with residential accommodation such as a kitchen, living area, bathroom, toilet and bedrooms. Accommodation unit may also include a campervan or caravan.” But as you’ll see in an upcoming post – this attempt at non-regulatory reform is just old wine in new wineskins. What kind of policy advice are authorities receiving – and accepting – to make them think this sort of regulation will encourage investment in accommodation units? Put the another way – as a statement answering the question – there is no real interest in or commitment to providing incentives for small scale, privately initiated and funded, investment in accommodation units at all!!