SWG Property – Rooming Houses Covers More than Just Student Housing

Apr 2020

SWG Property – Rooming Houses Covers More than Just Student Housing

The face of the rooming house market is changing. In the end of the twentieth century, rooming houses were mostly situated in urban centres. There, they tended to be occupied by low-income tenants who had few housing options due to disability or addiction. Today, rooming and boarding houses are cropping up in suburban areas to accommodate immigrant families and university students. (1) According to Statistics Canada, there were over 1,200 rooming and boarding house businesses in the country in 2019, with an average revenue of more than $326 thousand. (2)

Changes in the purpose and occupancy of rooming houses have led to changes in regulation. The type of regulations placed on these establishments varies depending on municipality and type of business. Savvy business owners are responding to this growing trend and need brokers who understand the exposures and can offer flexible coverage.


What Exactly Qualifies as a Rooming House?

A rooming house comprises one self-contained unit shared by three or more unrelated people. A self-contained unit is an accommodation that has a kitchen and bathroom exclusively for that unit. That means that:


  1. If the tenants have to leave their unit to have access to a kitchen or bathroom, then the unit is no longer considered to be self-contained.
  2. A house that is sectioned off into two units, with two unrelated tenants occupying one unit, and one tenant living in the other unit, where both units share a common kitchen and bathroom, then this is not considered a self-contained unit.
  3. If everyone in the unit is on the same lease and/or pays the landlord on one cheque, it is still considered a rooming house, as long as the tenants are unrelated to each other.


What are the Liability Risks for Rooming Houses?


One of the most common sources of risk is tenants with “party lifestyles”. Yet, even with older or non-student age tenants, there is always the risk of damage to the property and its contents from everyday mishaps, or weather events such as strong winds or heavy rainfall.

Unfortunately, many claims are turned down in court because the insured failed to inform their insurance provider of occupancy changes to their rooming house. A good rule of thumb for clients is to make sure their insurance providers are kept up to date on any changes in occupancy.


At A Glance: SWG Property – Rooming Houses


SWG Property: Commercial Property Liability insurance is designed to cover hard-to-place property accounts. We can accommodate most realty-type risks, from stand-alone rentals and vacant dwellings, to large commercial risks, with an in-house capacity of up to $6,000,000.


Coverage highlights are dependent on individual risk, construction, occupancy and town grade. They include:

● Broad Form or Named Perils

● Replacement Cost or ACV


Other coverages include:

● Rental Income

● Contents

● Flood, Quake, Sewer Backup

● Crime – including Employee Dishonesty & Broad Form Money & Securities

● Mechanical Breakdown


● Most realty type risks are written on a “Premises” type form


Visit our website for more details.


Content is current as of the date of broadcast and is subject to change without notice.




  1. http://neighbourhoodchange.ca/documents/2018/10/campsie-2018-talking-about-rooming-houses-canada.pdf
  2. https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/scr/app/cis/summary-sommaire/7213