Definition of Dwelling House

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General Principles

See also: Break and Enter (Offence)

"Dwelling house" is defined in section 2:

s. 2
...
“dwelling-house” means the whole or any part of a building or structure that is kept or occupied as a permanent or temporary residence, and includes

(a) a building within the curtilage of a dwelling-house that is connected to it by a doorway or by a covered and enclosed passage-way, and
(b) a unit that is designed to be mobile and to be used as a permanent or temporary residence and that is being used as such a residence;

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 2; R.S., 1985, c. 11 (1st Supp.), s. 2, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 2, 203, c. 31 (1st Supp.), s. 61, c. 1 (2nd Supp.), s. 213, c. 27 (2nd Supp.), s. 10, c. 35 (2nd Supp.), s. 34, c. 32 (4th Supp.), s. 55, c. 40 (4th Supp.), s. 2; 1990, c. 17, s. 7; 1991, c. 1, s. 28, c. 40, s. 1, c. 43, ss. 1, 9; 1992, c. 20, s. 216, c. 51, s. 32; 1993, c. 28, s. 78, c. 34, s. 59; 1994, c. 44, s. 2; 1995, c. 29, ss. 39, 40, c. 39, s. 138; 1997, c. 23, s. 1; 1998, c. 30, s. 14; 1999, c. 3, s. 25, c. 5, s. 1, c. 25, s. 1(Preamble), c. 28, s. 155; 2000, c. 12, s. 91, c. 25, s. 1(F); 2001, c. 32, s. 1, c. 41, ss. 2, 131; 2002, c. 7, s. 137, c. 22, s. 324; 2003, c. 21, s. 1; 2004, c. 3, s. 1; 2005, c. 10, s. 34, c. 38, s. 58, c. 40, ss. 1, 7; 2006, c. 14, s. 1; 2007, c. 13, s. 1; 2012, c.1, s. 160, c. 19, s. 371.


CCC

Factors to consider include:[1]

  • the intention of the builder;
  • the traditional use;
  • the type of temporary use;
  • the seasonal use;
  • the actual use; and
  • the character of the building.

Detached building on private property does not usually amount to dwelling. [2]

An incomplete building does not constitute a dwelling.[3] However, an abandoned building however is one.[4]

A driveway is not a dwelling house; it is a place where people drive and park their vehicles.[5]

A motel room,[6] camp,[7] can be a dwelling.

A house which is not occupied can still retain its character as a dwelling-house.[8]

A garage or parkade under the residential building is also a dwelling-house.[9]

Certain types places will lose their dwelling-house status from non-use. A house may be abandoned for a period of time, dilapidated, boarded-up, and "not intending to be live[d] in ...again" rendering it a non-dwelling.[10]

A "dwelling-house" for the purpose of a conviction under s. 348 for a break and enter will not include a building under construction that has not been occupied as a residence.[11]

"Curtilage" in US law is meant to "include all buildings in close proximity to a dwelling, which are continually used for carrying on domestic employment; or such place as is necessary and convenient to a dwelling and is habitually used for family purposes".[12]


  1. R v Sappier, 2005 NBPC 37 (CanLII)
  2. R v N.M., 2007 CanLII 31570 (ON S.C.)
  3. R v Sappier
  4. R v DeWolfe (1988), 82 N.S.R.(2d) 175 (CA)(*no link)
  5. R v Evans, 1996 CanLII 248 (SCC), [1996] 1 SCR 8 at para 32
  6. R v Henderson, [1975] 1 WWR 360 (BCPC)
  7. R v Nowlan, 2009 NBQB 117 (CanLII)
  8. R v DeWolfe - a house that was emptied a month prior was a dwelling
  9. R v Chomik, 2011 ABPC 152 (CanLII)
  10. R v Paquet [1978] O.J. No 980 (O.C.A.)(*no link) - abandoned three years, falling apart
    R v Tapley, 2013 NBPC 8 (CanLII) - 3 months abandoned
  11. R v Sappier, 2005 NBPC 37 (CanLII)
  12. United States v Potts, 297 F.2d 68 [6th Cir. 1961]