What are Multi-Tenant Houses?

A multi-tenant house, also known as a rooming house, is a building with four or more dwelling-rooms intended to be used by people who do not live together as a single housekeeping unit, but instead share a kitchen and/or washroom. Under this definition, a multi-tenant (rooming house) dwelling-room is defined as one which is intended to be used as a bedroom or a living accommodation, available for rent, and may have a bathroom or kitchen exclusive for the occupant of such a room, but not both.

In order for a building to be considered a multi-tenant house it must contain more than three dwelling rooms, an average floor area of less than 65 sq metres per dwelling unit, and one or more dwelling rooms are intended to be used in return for payment. Moreover, a dwelling room is a living accommodation for persons living together as a single housekeeping unit, in which both food preparation and sanitary facilities are for the use of the occupants.

Multi-tenant houses are an important part of the affordable rental housing market and provide single-room accommodation to diverse communities, including students, seniors, new immigrants and low/moderate income residents. In the City of Toronto, multi-tenant (rooming) houses offer the most affordable form of housing typography in the private rental housing market, with rents on average ranging between $400 - $700 where the average cost of a bachelor's apartment is $1400.

In some areas, owners must have a licence to operate multi-tenant houses. Other areas define multi-tenant houses differently and may not be permitted as a result of municipal by-law regulations. Currently these are the standings:

  • Former City of Toronto: multi-tenant houses are permitted and need to be licenced.

  • Former City of York: multi-tenant houses are permitted but do not need to be licenced.

  • Former Cities of East York, North York, Scarborough: Multi-tenant houses are not permitted.

Is important to note that Multi-tenant houses licences are given by the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division of Toronto (MLS). Moreover, once a multi-tenant licence is granted, the house cannot be used for any other intended purpose and must comply with rules and regulations. The enforcement of multi-tenant (rooming) house licensing standards is managed by Toronto's MLS Multi-Tenant Housing Enforcement Team.