Mapping linkages between the formal and informal sectors is a key area of study in the informal markets literature, particularly in research that focuses on low-income economic actors in the global south. This paper extends that literature both spatially and sociologically by exploring an instance of market informality practiced by middle-class households in the global north, specifically the market in unauthorized secondary suite rentals in Vancouver. Secondary suites (also known as accessory dwelling units) are self-contained apartments typically built by retrofitting the basement, garage, or attic of a house—in some cases without adhering to existing regulations. As in other cities, homeowners in Vancouver often rent out these apartments regardless of the unit's legal status. Through an analysis of more than 30 interviews conducted with homeowner-landlords of unauthorized secondary suites in the city, a mapping of formal-informal linkages in this rental housing submarket is undertaken. This local-level mapping exercise also examines how municipal enforcement policy and federal housing and taxation policy relate to these linkages, highlighting contradictions within and between municipal, provincial, and federal scales of government.

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Keywords accessory dwelling units, informal markets, linkages, secondary suites, Vancouver
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1111/cag.12410
Citation
Mendez, P. (2017). Linkages between the formal and informal sectors in a Canadian housing market: Vancouver and its secondary suite rentals. doi:10.1111/cag.12410