Many Canadian homeowners who rent out part of their home are keeping the news from their insurance company. 

A new survey from BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA found that only 47% of respondents told their insurance companies that they were renting out either a room or a floor in their home, including their basements, to a tenant.

Meanwhile, 42% of respondents said they did not tell their insurance company about their live-in tenant, and 11% said they didn’t know or preferred not to answer. What’s more, the survey also found that 24% of homeowners with live-in tenants aren’t even aware they are supposed to let their insurance companies know. Yikes.

The findings come as the number of Canadians who rent out part of their home has seen a small uptick during the pandemic. According to the survey, 6% of homeowners reported that they took on tenants in the past two years, compared to 5% who rented out part of their home pre-pandemic. In a climate of sky-high real estate prices, it’s safe to assume that more Canadian homeowners will turn to tenants as a means to offset some of the mortgage cost. 

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But keeping this a secret from your insurance company could make a major dent in your bank account and even render your insurance policy void. 

If a tenant causes damage to your home -- say, by starting a kitchen fire or bathroom flood (knock on wood) -- a homeowner who neglected to inform their insurance company about their tenant situation could have to dish out dollars out-of-pocket to cover the damage. 

According to the survey, it’s not just Canadians with tenants who may take the risk (whether knowingly or not). It found that 8% of Canadian homeowners have listed their home on short-term rental sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. 

Hosting short-term rentals via these types of sites requires getting a special type of insurance in addition to homeowners’ policy. Furthermore, not all insurance providers in Canada offer this coverage. Hosts without insurance could get stuck footing repair or cleaning tabs in the event of reckless guests.  

The survey was conducted between Feb. 18-20 of this year, and polled 1,511 Canadians. It found that 66% were homeowners, while 34% were not.