The City of Surrey, B.C., is cracking down on illegal secondary suites by actively pursuing owners advertising online.

Councillor Barinder Rasode says bylaw officers are combing through rental listings looking for the illegal suites.

"What they are doing is also looking through ads in local papers, classifieds and Craigslist to see people who are advertising their suites and cross-referencing them with our database," said Rasode.

Those who fail to register their suite face a fine of up to $1,000. Since the beginning of the month, when the bylaw took effect, about 3,000 new suites have been registered, but so far no fines have been issued.

It is all good news for Surrey resident Crystal Litonjua, who says she's tired of her neighbours illegally renting out their suites.

"We don't know if they're a new tenant or if they're a visitor...people smoking drugs...people throwing trash."

Litonjua says because of all the tenants, parking has become problematic.

"We have no place to park for guests, if we ever want to go out in the evening with our extra vehicle, it's a nightmare."

In 2010 Surrey Council changed its bylaws to permit one secondary suite in each single-family home, under certain conditions. These conditions include:

  • A limit of one secondary suite per property.
  • No secondary suites on properties with a coach house.
  • No secondary suites in semi-detached or duplex buildings.
  • A requirement to provide one additional off-street parking space.

Secondary suites are also legal in several other Metro Vancouver municipalities, including Vancouver and West Vancouver.

With files from Meera Bains