Property Use Bylaws
Report common bylaw infractions in Surrey, including noise complaints, illegal suites, and smoking in public places.
Property use issues impact living conditions for residents, businesses and visitors to our City. Things like unsightly properties, noise and graffiti can impact neighbourhoods and the general enjoyment of our community.
The City of Surrey passes property bylaws on safety, maintenance, beautification, liveability and sustainability to establish standards for all property owners to follow.
You can also contact our Bylaw Enforcement team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-591-4370.
Bylaw Enforcement responds to complaints from the public and other government agencies, and identifies property use issues but does not respond to civil issues. Information regarding the complainant is kept confidential, unless the complaint ends up in the court system.
Types of Property Use Bylaws
Read about the most common property use bylaws in Surrey, and what happens when you report an infraction.
A business is defined as a commercial or industrial undertaking of any kind, or an individual or team who provides professional, personal, or other services for profit. The City of Surrey regulates businesses by issuing business licences.
In addition to the regulations of the Business Licence Bylaw, bylaw enforcement officers ensure all businesses operating in Surrey follow the Zoning Bylaw, and if needed, other bylaws such as the Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Bylaw and the Scrap Metal Dealer Regulation Bylaw.
Officers may work with other City departments, the Surrey RCMP, and other government agencies to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation.
Properties within the City of Surrey are required to be maintained at an acceptable level. The Surrey Property Maintenance and Unsightly Premises Bylaw, 2007, No. 16393 sets acceptable levels of maintenance and defines what is considered unsightly. Accumulation of junk, discarded materials and garbage, dead landscaping, uncontrolled growth of landscaping, and deterioration of fences, buildings or other structures are examples of items contained within the definition of unsightly in the bylaw.
Once a complaint is received, an inspection is conducted by a bylaw enforcement officer. If it is determined that the property falls within the definition of an unsightly property, the by-law is explained to the property owner, as well as what must be done to clean up the property. A deadline for the clean-up is set by the bylaw enforcement officer after the property owner has been notified.
If sufficient clean-up of the property has not taken place after the deadline has lapsed, the City may have the property cleaned up at the expense of the property owner. If the owner does not pay, the cost of the clean-up will be added to the property owner's property taxes.
Unpermitted and Illegal Construction
Unpermitted construction is subject to an inspection from City bylaw enforcement officers. To file a complaint about construction you suspect has been done without permits:
- email email@example.com
- call 604-591-4370
- report online through the Report a Problem application
Anonymous complaints are not accepted.
Once a complaint is received, a bylaw enforcement officer:
- conducts an inspection
- informs the property owner what must be done to bring the property into compliance
- can issue violation notices and/or request a stop work order on the property from the Building Division.
A bylaw enforcement officer will visit the site three times after the property owner has been notified.
Read more about unpermitted and illegal construction.
A wrecked vehicle is defined as:
- a vehicle that is wrecked or disabled so that it cannot be operated by its own power
- are the parts of a wrecked or disabled vehicle
- appears to be wrecked, that may be able to operate by its own power, but is not displaying a current license for operation on a highway (street).
Once a complaint is received, an inspection is conducted by one of the City's bylaw enforcement officers. If it is determined that the property contains wrecked vehicles, the bylaw and what must be done to bring the property into compliance, either by removal of the vehicle(s) and/or properly storing them, is explained to the property owner or occupant.
A deadline for the removal or proper storage of the wrecked vehicle(s) is set by the bylaw enforcement officer after the property owner has been notified.
Overweight Vehicles on Private Property
An overweight vehicle is defined as any vehicle with a licensed gross vehicle weight exceeding 5,000 kilograms.
Overweight vehicles are not permitted on any residential property in Surrey.
Once a complaint is received, a bylaw enforcement officer:
- conducts an inspection
- explains the bylaw to the property owner or occupant if an overweight vehicle(s) is parked on the property
- informs the property owner what must be done to bring the property into compliance by removal of the overweight vehicle(s)
Noise is defined by Surrey's Noise Control Bylaw, 1982, No. 7044 as any sound in or on a public or private place which disturbs or tends to disturb the rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity. Such sounds can include loud music, animal noises (including barking dogs), street vendors or alarms.
Once a complaint is received, a bylaw enforcement officer conducts an inspection and then works with the property owner to reduce the noise levels to an acceptable standard or eliminate the noise entirely.
Construction Noise is defined as constructing, erecting, reconstructing, altering, repairing or demolishing any building, structure or thing or excavating or filling in land which disturbs the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood or of persons in the vicinity.
In Surrey, Construction Noise is permitted between 7:00am and 10:00pm, Monday through Saturday, including statutory holidays. No construction for profit or gain is permitted on Sunday. This means property owners can do construction work on Sunday on their own property, but cannot hire any trades to do construction work on a Sunday.
Once a complaint is received, a bylaw enforcement officer conducts an inspection and then works with the property owner to gain compliance with the regulated hours.
Graffiti is defined as one or more letters, initials, symbols, marks, slogans, designs or drawings permanently made on a sidewalk, wall, building, fence, sign or any other structure or surface. Graffiti does not include marks made accidentally or placed by the property owner.
Once a complaint is received, a bylaw enforcement officer
- Inspects the property
- Explains the bylaw to the property owner or occupant
- Explains what must be done to remove the graffiti
- Sets a deadline for the removal of the graffiti
If the graffiti has not been removed by the deadline, the City may have the graffiti removed at the property owner’s expense. The cost of the cleanup will form a part of the property taxes of the property if the owner does not pay.
There is a program available to assist elderly and disabled residents with graffiti removal. Paint vouchers are available from Bylaw Enforcement to reduce the costs of paint for residents removing graffiti.
Find more information on graffiti removal and prevention.
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.
Once a complaint is received, an inspection is conducted by one of the City's bylaw enforcement officers. If it is determined that a secondary suite (or more than one secondary suite) exists where a secondary suite it not permitted, the bylaw is explained to the property owner, as well as what must be done to bring the property into compliance. Follow up inspections are conducted to ensure compliance with the bylaw.
The bylaw does not address who the occupant of a secondary suite is or whether the suite is occupied at all. This means that whether or not the secondary suite is occupied by family, rented out or vacant makes no difference in determining if a secondary suite exists. The existence of the cooking equipment and bathroom are the only considerations as to whether or not there is a secondary suite.
Currently, the City of Surrey uses a cost recovery program for utilities associated with secondary suites. For properties containing one secondary suite, additional water, sewer and garbage rates are applied. This does not authorize the secondary suite as a permitted use.
Rental premises is defined as a building, or part of a building or a related group of buildings, in which one or more rental units of common areas are located. Rental unit means living accommodation rented or intended to be rented to a tenant.
Once a complaint is received, an inspection is conducted by a bylaw enforcement officer. If it is determined that the property fails to meet the bylaw rental standards, the bylaw is explained to the property owner, as well as what must be done to be in compliance with the bylaw. A deadline is set by the bylaw enforcement officer after the property owner has been notified.
If the deadline is not met, the owner is subject to be fined up to $10,000 and can be imprisoned for up to 6 months.
Smoking means to inhale, exhale, burn or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah pipe or other lighted smoking equipment that burns tobacco or another substance.
The City of Surrey prohibits smoking in many places, such as:
- in buildings where the public is invited (for example shopping centres, office building, etc.)
- in a customer service area (for example restaurants or pubs, including patios, balconies or yards, whether or not they are enclosed)
- in a taxi
- on a bus
- at a bus shelter
- within 7.5 metres near any point of opening into any building (door, windows, air intake, etc.)
Once a complaint is received, an inspection is conducted by a bylaw enforcement officer. If it is determined that smoking is occurring where it is not allowed, the bylaw is explained to the property owner or proprietor and/or persons smoking, as well as what must be done to bring the property into compliance. If further complaints are received, municipal tickets may be issued or court proceedings may occur.
No smoking signs may be obtained from a printing company using the No Smoking sign document.