The Province supports the development of secondary suites and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to provide more affordable long-term housing in B.C. This page has information for homeowners interested in building and managing a secondary suite or ADU, including a guide and information about the new BC Housing secondary suite incentive program (accepting applications April 2024).
Last updated: September 22, 2023
On this page:
- Adding and managing a secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit (ADU)
- Benefits of adding a secondary suite or ADU
- Where are secondary suites and ADUs allowed?
- Guide: Home Suite Home
- Secondary Suite Incentive Program
The housing supply in B.C. has not kept up with the growing demand for housing. More housing is urgently needed for people in B.C. to have a safe, attainable and affordable place to call home. Secondary suites or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) provide an opportunity to quickly add more housing to the market.
The benefits of adding secondary suites and ADUs include: providing homes for aging parents, adult children or other family members, helping to pay a mortgage or investing in existing property and contributing to more long-term rental housing in communities.
Secondary suites are permitted in most single detached and some side-by-side attached homes across British Columbia. In some communities, property owners may build an ADU instead of a secondary suite. To construct a legal secondary suite or ADU, you must comply with both the BC Building Code and local government zoning and planning bylaws.
The Province has created a guide, Home Suite Home, you can download to help you decide whether building and renting a secondary suite or ADU is right for you.
The guide provides information on
- Local government zoning and planning requirements
- Key Building Code requirements
- Obtaining building permits from local government
- Tips for hiring a contractor
- Key provisions under the Residential Tenancy Act
- Your rights and responsibilities as a landlord
- Managing the rental process including finding and screening tenants, beginning a tenancy, communication and service requirements, dispute resolution and ending a tenancy
- Where to find resources and professionals
Download the guide: Home Suite Home
- Home Suite Home, English (pdf 3.9 MB)
- Home Suite Home, simplified Chinese (pdf 19.6 MB)
- Home Suite Home, traditional Chinese (pdf 19.6 MB)
- Mon logemont et moi, French (pdf 12.7 MB)
- Home Suite Home, Hindi (pdf 21.6 MB)
- Home Suite Home, Punjabi (pdf 20.0 MB)
Beginning in April 2024, the Province, through BC Housing, will introduce the Secondary Suite Incentive Program (SSIP).
The SSIP will be a three-year pilot program to provide conditional financial assistance to help homeowners construct long-term affordable rental units, including secondary suites and/or ADUs, attached or detached from the unit that the homeowners reside in.
Qualified homeowners would be eligible for a forgivable loan covering 50% of construction costs for installing a new secondary suite or ADU, up to $40,000.
- The loan will be available in the form of costs rebated to the owner after construction is complete and an occupancy permit is issued.
- The loan will be forgiven if the homeowner meets certain conditions, including renting the unit at below-market rates, as specified in the program criteria, for a minimum of five years.
More information about SSIP can be found on BC Housing’s website (https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/secondary-suite) and includes an option to sign up for emailed updates.
A secondary suite is a complete living unit with its own kitchen, sleeping area, and washroom facilities contained within another dwelling. The two dwelling units (the primary residence and the secondary suite) and any common spaces make up a single real estate entity that cannot be stratified or otherwise legally separated from the other.
Accessory Dwelling Unit
An accessory dwelling unit (often referred to as an ADU) is a self-contained dwelling unit, such as a garden suite, laneway home, carriage house or garage suite, located on the same legal lot as another dwelling. Specific planning rules and building code standards exist for the development of secondary suites and ADUs, providing property owners and tenants with assurances about the safety of their homes.