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Building Secondary Suites

Single Family Home

A Secondary Suite is defined as a second dwelling unit (self-contained living quarters including cooking equipment and a bathroom), located within the structure of an owner-occupied single family dwelling.

When you follow the process to install a new or legalize an existing secondary suite in your home, it will automatically be registered on property taxes with the appropriate fees applied. Learn the secondary suite fee details.

Benefits of having a Legal Secondary Suite

There are many benefits of building and maintaining a legal Secondary Suite in your single family home. Secondary Suites support the City's affordable housing goals by providing ground‐oriented rental housing for a range of tenants. For homeowners, legal Secondary Suites also:

  • act as a mortgage helper, making home ownership more affordable.
  • may increase the value of your home
  • typically provide a higher rental income than illegal suites
  • allow you to purchase insurance, unlike illegal suites
  • provide more safety and security of the house and suite than illegal suites.

Unauthorized suites may be a source of tension between neighbours and may not offer safe accommodation or security of tenure for tenants, or security of rental income for homeowners who are dependent on this income for mortgage payments.

Make a complaint on a secondary suite or review the review the bylaw enforcement procedures. Unsure if the suite on a property is legal? Check the status with the Secondary Suite Fee Web Inquiry.

Applying for a Secondary Suite

To legalize or install a new or existing Secondary Suite, a homeowner must:

  • meet the conditions of zoning,
  • have necessary building permits,
  • meet standards of the BC Building Code,
  • pay secondary suite utility and service fees, and
  • submit a building permit application if previously a building permit to authorize the existing secondary suite is not obtained to demonstrate compliance.

Where a property is in breach of City bylaws, such as the Zoning Bylaw or Building Bylaw, the City reserves the right to enforce these bylaws now or in the future.

Find out how to apply for a Secondary Suite Permit and check the electrical requirements for secondary suites.

Acceptable Zoning for Secondary Suites

The Zoning Bylaw currently sets the following conditions for a secondary suite in a single family dwelling:

  • the home must be owner‐occupied;
  • only one secondary suite is permitted per single family dwelling;
  • a secondary suite is prohibited in conjunction with a coach house; and
  • a home with secondary suite must provide one additional off‐street parking space.

Secondary Suites may be permitted in the A-1, A-2, RA, RA-G, RH, RH-G, RC, RF-O, RF, RF-SS, RF-G, RF-12, RF-12C, RF-9, RF-9C and RF-9S Zones. Comprehensive Development Zones that currently permit a single family dwelling but not a secondary suite may be amended to allow secondary suites at a later date. Each application for a secondary suite must be reviewed for possible legal restrictions such as Land Use Contracts and Building Schemes that prohibit secondary suites on specific properties. Contact the Building Division to see if your house was issued with a Suite Ready permit.

Guide to Zoning for Secondary Suites for more information on zoning and other possible restrictions.

Multiple Secondary Suites

Multiple suites in Surrey are not permitted. The Zoning Bylaw permits only one Secondary Suite per single family home. There are also no safety provisions in the BC Building Code for multiple "secondary suites" in a single family dwelling. Therefore, the City will initiate closure of multiple suites as these properties are identified. The process is responsive with communication between City staff and property owners to ensure that adequate time is provided for tenants to find new accommodation.

Make a complaint on a secondary suite or contact Bylaw and Licensing Services at 604-591-4370.

Contact information

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Type of Information Division Telephone Number
Zoning requirements Planning 604-591-4448
Building permits Building 604-591-4366
Making a complaint and enforcement procedures Bylaw and Licensing Services 604-591-4370 or Report a problem online
All other secondary suite-related questions Property and Payment Services 604-591-4516 Option 2

Learn about how to register a secondary suite.