40% of Vancouver House-Owners Rent Part of Their Home

A recent survey released by Square One estimates that two-out-of-five house-owners in Vancouver rent out part of their home. According to the insurance agency, this is more than twice the number two ranked city of Toronto. This article explains the prevalence of secondary suites in Vancouver and validates the accuracy of the survey.


  • 43% of house-owners in Vancouver rent out part of their home
  • The national average is just 14%
  • Half of City of Vancouver households rent
  • High rents and low vacancy rates are a major driving factor
  • Apartments actually make up a minority of the rental stock
  • Changes to CMHC’s underwriting policy should encourage even more secondary suites in the future

What Does the Survey Say About Secondary Suites in Vancouver?

Secondary suites are very common in Vancouver.

  • Results indicate that 43% of Vancouver house-owners (as opposed to condominium apartment owners) rent out either basement suites, laneway homes, or other parts of their residence
  • This is well above the nation-wide average of 14%, which is held down by very low rates in the prairie provinces

Potential Issues With the Data?

  • Square One’s survey is based on a sample size of 4,000 households across Canada. While the local response counts were not released, we can only assume that the responses from Vancouver were notably lower, lowering the potential accuracy of the survey
  • Respondents may have been inclined to not reveal the presence of renters. This would create a potential downward bias in the results
  • On the other hand, the survey suffers from self-selection as the survey was not random. Responses were gathered from potential clients, which may be more or less likely to have renters.

How Does the Data Compare?

Data from the National Household Survey shed some interesting light on renting in Vancouver:

  • Renting is the dominant form of tenure in Vancouver – as of 2011, The City of Vancouver had around 136,000 renter households (just over half of the total number of households)
  • Most renter households (around 85,000) live in “other dwellings”, which includes duplexes, townhouses, and low-rise apartments
  • Very few rent single-detached houses. While this may appear to be in contrast to the survey results, it is not. Living in a basement suite would be defined as an “other dwelling”, not a single-detached house

How Much is the Rent in a Secondary Suite in Vancouver?

  • According to CMHC, the average monthly rent for a duplex in the Greater Vancouver area is $1,255.
  • This is only slightly more than a one bedroom condo, which will set you back $1,200, but is notably cheaper than a two bedroom, which will cost you $1,670 a month

What is Likely to Happen Next?

Going forward, this trend could continue, thanks to recently announced changes to CMHC’s underwriting policy. These changes would provide some encouragement for existing homes to be converted and for new homes to be built with secondary suites ready to go.

On the other hand, a falling stock of single-detached homes will have a moderating effect.

Furthermore, the City of Vancouver has been actively encouraging new, purpose-built rental developments as of late, with programs such as Rental 100.