Mortgage Loan Insurance: Affordable Housing 

CMHC mortgage insurance offers many flexible tools to help you build, repair or improve rental housing. These include: 

  • higher loan-to-value ratios 
  • loan advances of 85-95% of costs during construction 
  • debt coverage ratios as low as 1.10 for standard rentals 
  • amortization periods up to 40 years 
  • reduced premiums


Our mortgage loan flexibilities are available for both new and existing projects. They can be used for standard rental buildings, single room occupancies (SRO), supportive housing and retirement homes. They can also apply to first, second and pari passu mortgages.

To be eligible, your project must:

  • include at least 5 units (or 50 units or beds for retirement homeS
  • be at least 70% residential in terms of both floor area and the total loan value
  • have replacement reserves of at least 2% of effective gross income (EGI) 

In addition, the group borrowing the money must have:

  • at least 5 years’ experience operating a similar property
  • excellent credit and repayment history
  • proof of a similar project completed on time and on budget (or a contractor with this record)
  • a net worth of at least 25% of the value of the loan
  • the ability to guarantee 100% of the loan during construction and rent-up 


Your project also has to meet a set of key criteria related to affordability. Plus, you must commit to maintain that level of affordability for at least 10 years.

For new construction:

  • the total residential rental income must be at least 10% lower than market rates, and
  • 20% of the units must rent for less than 30% of the median household income for your area

You can access median household incomes from Statistics Canada.

Your proposal can also meet these criteria by being approved under another government affordable housing program. This can include capital grants, municipal concessions and expedited planning processes.

For existing buildings:

  • 80% or more of the units must be in the lowest 30% of rents for similar homes, or
  • the building must be approved by another government affordable housing program

You can look up average rents in your area with CMHC’s Rent Percentile Tables. (PDF)

Social housing projects with at least 5 years left on their operating agreements can also apply.



For more details about our mortgage insurance tools, including:

You can:

Date Published: March 31, 2018