What is Housing Tenure?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 February 2020
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Housing tenure refers to a financial arrangement that gives a person legal status to live in a residential dwelling. Owner-occupied homes represent the most common form of housing tenure, followed by houses rented from the owner. Housing tenure applies even if the homeowner does not own his or her residence outright, but makes payments to a bank or mortgage company.

Some variations exist for housing tenure at condominium complexes and public housing projects. A person who buys a condo owns the actual residence but does not enjoy housing tenure in common areas, such as hallways, courtyards, and pools. Those areas are typically owned by a homeowners’ association that receives fees from each unit’s owner in exchange for upkeep and maintenance. Public housing tenure is usually granted by a government agency to provide low-cost or free occupancy in low-income areas.

Timeshare tenure is generally limited to a short period of time each year. This financial arrangement usually applies to apartments or condos used as annual vacation homes. Co-housing communities enjoy housing tenure by sharing recreation areas, laundry facilities, community kitchens, and similar amenities. These communities allow people to live together and interact with neighbors who all own shared facilities.


Agencies that study housing might use the information to plan residential development and impose growth control measures. Research shows in regions where housing shortages exist, the cost of homes and rental prices go up. Planning departments attempt to balance the need for affordable housing with the adverse impacts of growth, such as increased traffic and loss of open space.

These studies routinely examine home prices, rental rates, and mortgage rates to determine if citizens can afford to buy a residence. This information can be compared to the average income in a neighborhood, which may indicate the type of housing needed. If land use policies are too strict, they might prohibit development of multifamily dwellings, such as condominiums for lower-income residents. When policies are too lax, they can lead to urban sprawl and affect quality of life.

Housing statistics might be affected by changes in legislation and government policies aimed at increasing the rate of owner-occupied homes. Tax incentives in some areas provide financial relief on mortgage interest and property taxes. A common incentive to promote home ownership in some regions includes grants and low-cost loans to first-time homebuyers. Rent control is another tactic used when housing tenure data shows inequities.


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