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Housing suitability

Part A - Short definition:

Not applicable

Part B - Detailed definition:

Housing suitability refers to whether a private household is living in suitable accommodations according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS); that is, whether the dwelling has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of the household. A household is deemed to be living in suitable accommodations if its dwelling has enough bedrooms, as calculated using the NOS.

Housing suitability assesses the required number of bedrooms for a household based on the age, sex, and relationships among household members. An alternative variable, the number of persons per room, considers all rooms in a private dwelling and the number of household members.

Housing suitability and the National Occupancy Standard (NOS) on which it is based were developed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) through consultations with provincial housing agencies.

Reported in:


Reported for:

Private households

Question number(s):

Derived variable: Questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and E4(b)


In the standard products, the most detailed classification is as follows:

  • Suitable
  • Not suitable
    • One bedroom shortfall
    • Two bedroom shortfall
    • Three or more bedroom shortfall


The NOS derives the number of bedrooms a household requires as follows:

  • A maximum of two persons per bedroom.
  • Household members, of any age, living as part of a married or common-law couple share a bedroom with their spouse or common-law partner.
  • Lone-parents, of any age, have a separate bedroom.
  • Household members aged 18 or over have a separate bedroom, except those living as part of a married or common-law couple.
  • Household members under 18 years of age of the same sex share a bedroom, except lone-parents and those living as part of a married or common-law couple.
  • Household members under 5 years of age of the opposite sex share a bedroom if doing so would reduce the number of required bedrooms. This situation would arise only in households with an odd number of males under 18, an odd number of females under 18, and at least one female and one male under the age of 5.

An exception to the above is a household consisting of one individual living alone. Such a household would not need a bedroom (i.e., the individual may live in a studio apartment and be considered to be living in suitable accommodations).

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