Housing Tenure


Housing tenure refers to the financial arrangements under which someone has the right to live in a house or apartment. The most frequent forms are tenancy, in which rent is paid to a landlord, and owner occupancy. Mixed forms of tenure are also possible.

The basic forms of tenure can be subdivided, for example an owner-occupier may own a house outright, or it may be mortgaged. In the case of tenancy, the landlord may be a private individual, a non-profit organization such as a housing association, or a government body, as in public housing.

Surveys used in social science research frequently include questions about housing tenure, because it is a useful proxy for income or wealth, and people are less reluctant to give information about it.

Types of Tenure

  • Owner occupancy - The person or group that occupies a house owns the building (and usually the land on which it sits).
  • Tenancy - A landlord who owns an apartment or building rents the right to occupy the unit to a tenant.
  • Cooperative - Ownership of the entire building or complex is held in common by a homeowners' association. Individuals have the right to occupy a particular apartment by mutual agreement but do not hold exclusive ownership to it.
  • Condominium (a.k.a. commonhold and strata title) - Ownership of an apartment or house is assigned to an individual, but common areas (e.g. hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas) are controlled by the homeowners' association. Fees are charged to the condo owners for maintenance of the common areas. These are referred to as "condo fees".
  • Public housing - Government-owned housing, whether provided for free or leased at a subsidized rate.
  • Squatting - Occupation by non-owner without permission by the owner, if any.

Styles and variations

  • Timeshare - A modified form of cooperative, condominium, or leased house or apartment, with short-term residency right agreements tailored for vacations.
  • Cohousing - A variant of a condominium or cooperative with a high degree of interaction with neighbors in shared areas.

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