2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017  First Issue
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Housing Suitability (HOSD)

This variable is new to 2016 and is a measure of housing utilisation based on a comparison of the number of bedrooms in a dwelling with a series of household demographics, such as the number of usual residents, their relationship to each other, age and sex. The criteria are based on the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS). This variable can be used to identify if a dwelling is either under or over utilised. This variable is applicable to all occupied private dwellings enumerated in the 2016 Census.

How this variable is created

Housing Suitability is a dwelling variable that is derived from responses to the Number of Bedrooms in a Dwelling, Relationship in the Household, Sex and Age questions for persons who are usually resident. Images of questions used to derive the Housing Suitability variable are provided below.

The criteria used to derive the variable are based on the Canadian National Occupancy Standard for housing appropriateness and are sensitive to both household size and composition. The measure assesses the bedroom requirements of a household by specifying that:

  • there should be no more than two persons per bedroom
  • children less than five years of age of different sexes may reasonably share a bedroom
  • children less than 18 years of age and of the same sex may reasonably share a bedroom
  • single household members 18 years and over should have a separate bedroom, as should parents or couples and
  • a lone person household may reasonably occupy a bed sitter.


The Housing Suitability variable compares the number of bedrooms required with the actual number of bedrooms in the dwelling. It can be used to analyse the under or over utilisation of dwellings and the dwelling's suitability for the resident household.

Variable history

This is a new item for 2016, however Housing Suitability data has been available in previous censuses through customised data requests.

Non-response rate

Non-response rate only applies to data items that directly reflect responses to individual Census form questions. Housing Suitability does not have a non-response rate as it is a derived value created during Census processing for applicable households. For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

Data usage notes

There is no single standard measure for housing suitability. However, Canadian National Occupancy Standard is widely used in Australia and internationally.

Further Information

A definition of Housing Suitability, see the 2016 Census Dictionary.
For information related to Housing Suitability see data quality statements for Number of Bedrooms in Private Dwelling and Relationship in Household.

Household form question image

Questions 3, 4, 5, and 55 as they appeared on the 2016 Census Household Form:

2016 Household Paper Form - Question 3. Is the person male or female?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 4. What is the person's date of birth or age?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 5. What is the person's relationship to Person 1/Person 2?
2016 Household Paper Form - Question 55. How many bedrooms are there in this dwelling?
A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab.