Planning a Rental Suite in Your Home
June 21, 2012

A number of municipalities in the Lower Mainland allow secondary suites in single-family homes, but there are specific rules surrounding the creation of a rental suite. If you are thinking about building or renovating a secondary suite, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation(CMHC) offers the following tips on what you need to know before you begin construction:

  • The design and construction of secondary suites is governed by municipal and provincial building codes. To make sure your secondary suite meets all the municipal and building code requirements, contact your city's Building Permit office.
  • Once you are ready to proceed, do your best to create a healthy, safe and comfortable living environment for your tenants. At a minimum, your suite should have sufficient living space and headroom, ample natural light, good heating and ventilation, adequate thermal and sound insulation, no recurring moisture problems, good fire protection, and reliable heat and smoke alarms.
  • If you are building a secondary suite for an adult with a disability or a low-income senior, you may qualify for financial assistance under CMHC's Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP). Contact CMHC to find out more.
  • Remember that adding a secondary suite will likely increase the value of your property, so your property taxes may rise as a result. You must declare any rent you collect as income under the Income Tax Act.
  • Be sure to notify your insurance company about the change in the nature, use and value of your property (even if your suite is unauthorized). If the insurance company doesn't know you have a suite and it's damaged by fire, flood or other mishap, it won't be covered.
For more information or a free copy of the "About Your House" fact sheet Secondary Suites, visit or call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642.

See also:

Illegal Suites: Death Traps or Affordable Housing?