Secondary Suites

Secondary suites offer homeowners a variety of benefits and increase the amount of safe, affordable housing in Victoria.

A secondary suite is a legal suite, located within a single family detached house and cannot be strata-titled.

Secondary Suites
The City of Victoria has implemented relaxations to secondary suite zoning and regulations that make it easier to install a secondary suite.

Secondary Suites Made Easier

Click here [PDF - 436 KB] to read what it takes to create a suite in the City of Victoria.

For more information on the zoning and regulation changes in the last few years click here [PDF - 200 KB].

Secondary Suites Design Guidelines

Victoria homeowners who are considering installing a secondary suite in a single family home have some helpful design tips to guide them. The City's Secondary Suites Design Guidelines are meant to assist homeowners develop a secondary suite that will enhance the unique features of their home and neighbourhood.

The guidelines are easy to use and are divided into five categories:

  1. Overall Design of the House
  2. Landscaping and Parking
  3. Private Outdoor Space
  4. Design of Secondary Suite Entrance
  5. Suite Livability

The guidelines are an advisory only and must be used in conjunction with Victoria's Zoning Regulation Bylaw and the British Columbia Building Code.

When is a suite considered legal?

A suite is considered legal when all the required building, plumbing and electrical permits have been applied for and approved; and where all work has been completed, inspected and a final Occupancy Permit has been issued by the City of Victoria.

Secondary Suites Grant Program

The City of Victoria has made changes that make installing a secondary suite easier for homeowners. One of these is a grant program that will offer homeowners a grant equal to 25% of construction costs of new secondary suites, up to a maximum grant of $5000.

Please note:  As of March 2013, the program is fully subscribed. Applications are currently being accepted for a wait list, in the event of a cancellation.

Grant Application Form

Grant application forms are available online and at City Hall.

Download the application form [PDF - 44 KB]

Grant Program Questions and Answers

Q: Does this grant apply to homes in the Greater Victoria region?
A: No. The grant is only for eligible single family detached houses within the City of Victoria boundaries.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for the grant?
A: Applicants must be the owner and occupant of the single family detached house within the City of Victoria for which the grant is requested.

Q: What does the grant cover?
A: Each individual grant will equal 25% of construction costs, to a maximum grant of $5,000. eligible construction costs are defined as the value of the actual building materials and contracted services, and service upgrades to facilitate the development of the secondary suite. Ineligible costs include volunteer and owner's labour, tools, appliances, related permit fees, and any service or material without appropriate documentation or not directly attributable to the development of the secondary suite.

Q: What are the steps I need to take in order to receive this grant?
A: You will need to follow the steps below in order to receive the grant:

  • Confirm your property meets the zoning and regulatory requirements.
  • Apply for your Building permit.
  • Submit your completed grant application forms. Grant application forms are available at City Hall, or here [PDF - 44 KB].
  • Do not assume approval of grant monies until receiving notice of eligibility.
  • Pick up your approved Building Permit and complete all necessary construction and applicable inspections to build a legal secondary suite.
  • Apply for your Occupancy Permit.
  • After your Occupancy Permit has been issued and a Partnering Agreement signed with the City, submit your eligible receipts to the City of Victoria in order to receive the grant.

Q: Is there a time limit on construction of my suite to be eligible for the grant?
A: Yes, an Occupancy Permit must be obtained by the homeowner within 12 months of the application for a Building Permit.

Q: I currently have a suite, but would like to legalize it and bring it up to code. Will this grant cover that?
A: No. The grant only applies to construction of a new secondary suite and does not apply to renovation or upgrading of a legal or illegal existing suite.

Q: Once my suite is constructed, what do I need to do in order to receive the grant funding?
A: In order to receive the grant, you must be issued an Occupancy Permit by the City, submit all eligible receipts related to the suite's construction for audit, and enter into a Partnering Agreement with the City.

Q: What is the Partnering Agreement that I am required to enter into?
A: The Partnering Agreement is a written agreement between the City of Victoria and the homeowner detailing the terms and conditions of the grant. The agreement will specify that the secondary suite constructed under the grant program be made available for rental for a period of five years. The agreement will also require the recipient to indemnify the City of Victoria from any claim arising from the construction of the suite or its subsequent occupancy.

Q: If I sell my house within the five year period, does the Partnering Agreement pass to next owner?
A: Yes, the obligation accrues to the new owner as the Partnering Agreement is registered against the property, not a particular owner or occupant.

Q: If I sell my home after completing a suite and receiving the grant, can I apply for another grant in my new home?
A: No. Applicants are eligible to receive only one grant within the life of this program.

Q: Does receipt of this grant preclude me from receiving other grant monies, either from the City of Victoria or other governmental organizations, or vice versa?
A: No. The only restriction is on receipt of the same grant.

Q: Are there other grant programs available?
A: Yes, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program – Secondary/Garden Suite, provides forgivable loans to homeowners to create an affordable secondary suite in an existing single family house for low-income seniors or adults with a disability. For more information, call 1.800.639.3938 and ask to speak with CMHC's Assisted Housing Centre, or visit www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/index.cfm. In addition, you may be eligible for a federal Home Renovation Tax Credit. For more information visit www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

Q: Once I have constructed my suite, can I strata-title it?
A: No. Secondary suites are not eligible for strata-titling.

Q: Is there anything else I need to do in order to be eligible?
A: Your property must be in compliance with the City of Victoria's Building Bylaw and Zoning Regulation Bylaw at the time of application, and construction must comply with all permits and bylaws related to secondary suites. You must be current in your payment of taxes and utilities for the property. You must consent to public notification including name, address and grant amount, generally in the form of the City of Victoria's annual financial statements.

Q: Are there any restrictions on who I can rent my suite to once it is completed?
A: No.

Getting Started

If you are planning to construct a secondary suite, your first step should be to ensure that your property complies with all necessary zoning and other requirements for the construction of a secondary suite. The City's Sustainable Planning and Community Development Department, located on the second floor of Victoria City Hall, can assist you with these inquiries. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Once you have confirmed that your property complies, you must apply for a Building Permit at Victoria City Hall. To learn more about the process and to have your specific questions answered, contact: Zoning at 250.361.0316 and/or Permits and Inspections at 250.361.0342. A Building Permit requires that a homeowner comply with the secondary suites standards in the BC Building Code.

Greening Your Suite

The City of Victoria is committed to being a sustainable community.

There are a number of resources you can access in order to construct an energy efficient suite:

Resources

Related Links

Archives

To access reports, meeting minutes and presentations on secondary suites, click here.

For more information on the City of Victoria's 18 month review of secondary suites, click here [PDF - 1.4 MB].

Contact Us

Click here to send us your questions or feedback regarding secondary suites. For more information on the Secondary Suites Grant Program, call 250.361.0243. To reach Zoning call 250.361.0316 and for Permits and Inspections call 250.361.0342.