The City of Vancouver is examining lock-off suites as a new way to help offset the high cost of housing. The concept lets condo owners securely rent a portion of their suite to help pay the mortgage.

Vancouver’s Planning and Development GM Brian Jackson says lock-off units are like basement suites in the sky – adding another affordable housing option and giving condo and townhouse owners the chance to generate extra revenue from renters.

"It would have a door right from the hallway as well and it would have its own small kitchen and it would have its own bathroom."

Lock off suites are a made-in-B.C. housing solution that's being embraced around the world. The concept was pioneered at Simon Fraser University nearly a decade ago, at a condo development called One University Crescent. 

It's a win-win situation.  Students get affordable housing and for home owners know that they will have revenue coming in from a rental suite.

According to Burnaby bylaws, the lock-off suites must be at least 240 square feet. They rent quickly and sell quickly too.

"They really are like basement suites, except they are basement suites with beautiful patios,” said Gordon Harris, president of SFU Community Trust, "we know they are popular on resale, they are resold very quickly. At the moment, unfortunately there are none available for resale."

The concept is working in Burnaby and other metro jurisdictions as well. A handful of developments in Surrey and Richmond have lock-off suites – and Vancouver is next. The city just introduced new zoning bylaws for townhouses in the Norquay area of Vancouver to allow lock off suites. As well, it is going to expand those bylaws to include suites in Marpole and Grandview-Woodlands in the future.