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Last edited 20 Oct 2020
The term ‘housing tenure’ refers to the legal status under which people have the right to occupy accommodation.
The person, or home owner, owns the property in which they live. This allows them to modify or adapt the land or property as they wish, subject to appropriate regulations and permissions. Since people do not always have the capital required to purchase a property outright, owner occupation is often secured on the basis of a mortgage re-paid over a set period of time. The property acts as security for this loan.
Owners may be:
- Freeholders: owning the ‘title absolute’ of the property, that is, ownership of the land and any immovable structures attached to it, outright in perpetuity.
- Long leaseholders: able to use the property for a specified period subject to conditions set out in a lease with the freeholder.
- Commonholders: with collective ownership of the freehold of property.
 Private renting
Housing associations are independent, not-for-profit organisations that provide social housing for those in need. They are also known as ‘registered social landlords’ or ‘private registered providers of social housing’. They provide houses for rent and sometimes offer shared-ownership schemes where it is possible to purchase a share (between 25% and 75%) of a property. A mortgage is required for the share that is purchased, and rent is paid on the remainder.
A property guardian is someone who lives in a building that would otherwise be left empty and in return for taking care of the building pays a very low level of rent. This type of tenure has been promoted as a new and affordable means of living in expensive urban areas such as London. Guardians are expected to live in the property on a full-time basis, ensuring it is secure and well-maintained.
Squatting is knowingly entering a residential building as a trespasser and living there, or intending to live there. Since 1 September 2012, squatting in residential premises is a criminal offence, punishable by a prison sentence of up to 6 months or a fine of up to £5,000.
Let by local authorities or private registered providers of social housing to households who are eligible for social rented housing. Affordable rent is subject to rent controls that require a rent of no more than 80% of the local market rent.
Homes for sale and rent provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels. These can include shared equity, other low cost homes for sale and intermediate rent, but not affordable rented housing).
The term ‘monotenure’ is used to describe the land tenure of a development or area, where one form is particularly prevalent over the others. Such areas are often targeted by local authorities and developers for diversifying the mix of tenures and thereby created a more mixed community.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Affordable housing.
- Affordable rented housing.
- Assured shorthold tenancy.
- Buy-to-let mortgage.
- Ground rent.
- Help to buy.
- Housing associations.
- Housing guarantees.
- Housing shortage.
- Intermediate housing.
- Private rented sector.
- Property chain.
- Property guardianship.
- Property ownership.
- Public v private sector housing.
- Right to acquire.
- Right to buy.
- Social housing.
- Social housing v affordable housing.
- Tenancy deposit protection.
- What is a mortgage?
 External references
- Shelter – Housing tenure factsheet
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