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Building Secondary Suites

Single Family Home

Planning, Development & Building Temporary Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Call Centre: Planning & Development now has a call centre to replace the services normally provided at our 2W Service Counter at City Hall. Callers will be transferred to a staff member who will provide direction with respect to submitting applications, paying fees, requesting data, enquiring about land use, and booking appointments with specific staff. Call 604-591-4086 for assistance. Note that Requests for Inspections should be made through our regular systems not through this call centre. See the COVID-19 City Services, Closures & Cancellations page for more information.

Digital Permit Intakes: Planning & Development permits can be submitted by email to permitapplication@surrey.ca. Before submitting your application, please review the Digital Submission Guideline. You will be contacted once we have reviewed your submission. All permit application processes will remain the same, apart from receiving the physical document copies. Hard copies of permit application submissions may be necessary and requested depending on the scope of work and project size, upon completion of the digital submission. 

Pick ups and Drop offs: Note that Surrey City Hall has switched to appointment-only. Hard copies of plans, applications and other documents normally accepted at 2W, 3W and 4W counters are to be left in the drop box near the public entrance at Parking Level P1. Pick up of permits, plans and other documents normally from 2W, 3W and 4W is now at the Reception Desk at 1W.

Inspections: Building, Plumbing, Electrical and Trees and Landscape inspections are still being scheduled; however, until further notice, there will be no inspections of occupied homes, properties and spaces; and no inspections when City Officials, at their sole discretion, believe there is a health hazard. Inspections will be carried with only one person present to meet the inspector while maintaining appropriate social distancing.

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we will continue to keep you informed of any other temporary service implementations and changes. We appreciate your patience and flexibility at this time. Please visit this site regularly to get the latest update. 

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 about secondary suite fees.

Benefits of Legal Secondary Suites

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; and
  • provide more safety and security of the house and suite than illegal suites.

Unauthorized suites may be a source of tension between neighbours. They also might not offer safe accommodation or security of tenure for tenants, or security of rental income for homeowners.

Make a complaint about 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 the 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 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 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.

Refer to our 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 involves communication between City staff and property owners to ensure adequate time is provided for tenants to find new accommodation.

To file a secondary suite complaint, submit your complaint online or contact Bylaw & Licensing Services at 604-591-4370.

Contact Information

For questions or concerns about secondary suites in Surrey, select from the following contacts:

  • Zoning Requirements: 604-591-4448
  • Building Permits: 604-591-4366
  • Complaints & Enforcement: 604-591-4370 or Report a problem online
  • Property & Payment Services suite-related questions: 604-591-4516 Option 2

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

You can also submit your questions using our general contact form.

Learn how to register a secondary suite.