Family and Caregiver Suites are a type of secondary dwelling intended to allow the occupants of the suite to live independently while still maintaining access with the main dwelling. Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO) §12.9.8 provides the guidelines and regulations for family or caregiver suites, which include design, operation, and occupancy criteria. Family and Caregiver suites are allowed accessory uses in the R-20, R-10, R-8, R-6, R-5, R-10T, R15-30T, or R2-7 zoning districts, and require Zoning Administrator approval of a Family or Caregiver Suite Permit.
A Family or Caregiver Suite must comply with all the regulations in the zoning ordinance. Specifically, ACZO §12.9.8, which establishes the requirements for the creation, approval, and use of all Family and Caregiver Suites.
These requirements include:
- The suite contains no more than two (2) room plus a bathroom and an efficiency kitchen
- The gross floor area of the suite must not exceed the lesser of either 750 sq. ft. or 35% of the combined gross floor area of the suite and the main dwelling
- The suite must have interior access to the main dwelling
- The suite must be designed to function as an integral part of the main dwelling but it may allow the occupants to live independently of the occupant(s) of the main dwelling
- The dwelling in which the suite is located may only have one (1) main entrance. No new entrance is permitted on the same side of the structure as the existing main entrance of the dwelling.
- A floor plan of the suite which also identifies its relationship with the main dwelling must be filed with the Zoning Administrator
- There may only be one (1) Family or Caregiver Suite in any dwelling
- Family and Caregiver Suites are not permitted in a dwelling which contains an Accessory Dwelling as allowed under ACZO §12.9.2
- There shall be only one address for the property
- The suite shall not have separate utility service (i.e. electric and water meters)
- The property owner must record a covenant on the property identifying the suite use and the restrictions imposed by the Zoning Ordinance
- The suite may be occupied by either:
- No more than two (2) persons who are related by blood or marriage to the principal occupant(s) of the main dwelling; OR
- No more than two (2) persons who may be unrelated to the principal occupant(s) of the main dwelling, at least one (1) of whom provides care for either: one (1) or more children of the principal occupant(s) of the main dwelling; or one (1) or more elders or persons with disabilities who occupy the main dwelling.
- For Caregiver Suites, a written statement must be filed with the Zoning Administrator identifying the person providing care, the type of care being provided (i.e. child, elder, disabled person).
Submission & Process
The creation a family or caregiver suite requires the filing of a Family/Caregiver Suite Application Packet with Zoning Administration. Two (2) copies of the Family/Caregiver Suite Application Packet and all supporting documents are required.
- Family/Caregiver Suite Permit Application
- Floor plans of the proposed Family or Caregiver Suite showing its relationship to the existing main dwelling, to scale
- Written Statement identifying the person providing care (for Caregiver Suites only)
- Declaration of Covenants (to be submitted prior to the issuance of a building permit)
(NOTE: The maximum permitted size for floor plans is 11” x 17”. Larger sizes will not be accepted).
Zoning counter services staff review all Family/Caregiver Suite Application Packets to determine completeness and collect all associated fees. Zoning staff will then conduct a preliminary review of the proposed Family/Caregiver Suite and forward their recommendation to the Zoning Administrator for final review. If no issues are identified, the Family or Caregiver Suite Permit will be approved.
- APPLY IN-PERSON: Family/Caregiver Suite Application Packet
Arlington County Ellen M. Bozman Government Center
CPHD – Zoning Division
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1000
Arlington, VA 22210
703-228-3883 | email
The filing fee for a Family/Caregiver Suite Permit is $32, plus a 5% automation enhancement fee. The filing fee is paid when the Family/Caregiver Suite Application Packet is submitted to Zoning Administration. See Zoning Division Fees.