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Dwelling definitions

See definition of ‘Dwelling’ below.

Dilapidated buildings

Dilapidated buildings are not counted as dwellings if they are unoccupied when census data is collected. If being used for shelter, and therefore occupied during census night, then they are counted as dwellings.

Dilapidated buildings are defined as buildings that are in an advanced state of deterioration, to the point of being uninhabitable by current social norms.

Indicators may include:

  • doors or windows broken or not secure
  • essential services have been cut
  • evidence of vandalism
  • extensive exterior deterioration
  • interior is bare and deteriorating
  • roof is not weather-proof
  • surroundings unkempt or overgrown.

A dwelling may show some signs of neglect without being classed as dilapidated, provided these signs are relatively minor. Examples are a lack of maintenance (paint flaking off) or repairs (for example boarded-up windows), or other jobs that are overdue (untidy garden or section) that do not amount to severe overall deterioration.

Dwelling

A dwelling is any building or structure – or its parts – that is used, or intended to be used, for human habitation. Dwellings can be permanent or temporary and include structures such as houses, motels, hotels, prisons, motor homes, huts, and tents.

There can be more than one dwelling within a building; for example, in an apartment building each separate apartment or unit is considered a dwelling.

Dwelling occupancy status

Dwelling occupancy status classifies each dwelling according to whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or under construction when census data is collected.

See also ‘Dwelling under construction’, ‘Occupied dwelling’, and ‘Unoccupied dwelling’ on this page.

Dwelling type

Refer to ‘Occupied dwelling type’ on this page.

Dwelling under construction

Dwelling under construction includes each house, apartment, flat, or group or block of flats being built. An existing dwelling that is being altered, repaired, or extended and is unoccupied is coded as an ‘empty dwelling’. A new dwelling that is under construction and is occupied is coded as ‘occupied’.

Fuel types used to heat dwelling

Fuel types used to heat dwelling measures the type of fuel used for heating an occupied private dwelling. More than one fuel type may be used; for example, electricity, gas, coal, and wood. Insulation is not a fuel type.

Non-private dwelling

See ‘Occupied non-private dwelling’ on this page.

Number of bedrooms

A bedroom is defined as a room that is used, or intended to be used, for sleeping in.

  • A room is considered to be a bedroom if it is furnished as a bedroom even if it is not being used when census data is collected. A bedroom should include a sleeping facility such as a bed or mattress, and could include items such as a dresser or chest of drawers. It is counted as a bedroom, even if it is not being used on census night.
  • A one-roomed dwelling (for example, a bed-sitting room) is counted as having one bedroom and therefore, one total room.
  • A sleepout adjacent to a private dwelling should be counted if it is furnished as a bedroom and, if used, is used by members of the same household as those living in the dwelling.
  • A caravan adjacent to a private dwelling should be counted only if it is used as a bedroom by members of the same household as those living in the dwelling.
  • Another room (such as a living room) that is used as a bedroom at night, either short term or long term, should only be counted as a bedroom if there are no bedroom facilities elsewhere in the dwelling.

Number of occupants

Number of occupants on census night is the number of people who were present in a particular dwelling in New Zealand and who completed their individual form at that dwelling on census night.

Included in the number of occupants are people who were present in the dwelling on census night and usually:

  • live in the dwelling, or
  • reside overseas, or
  • reside elsewhere in New Zealand.

Excluded from number of occupants are people who usually live in the dwelling but were absent on census night.

Number of rooms

A room is defined as a space in a dwelling that is used, or intended to be used, for habitation and is enclosed by walls reaching from the floor to the ceiling or roof covering, excluding service areas.

The number of rooms includes each attic, bedroom, dining room, games room, habitable cellar, hobby room, kitchen, living room, lounge room, studio, and study. Service areas such as bathrooms, corridors, garages, hallways, laundries, pantries, spa rooms, toilets, verandas, and walk-in wardrobes should not be counted as rooms.

If a dwelling is built in an open-plan style, then room equivalents are counted as if they had walls between them. Room equivalents do not apply to a one-roomed dwelling; for example, a bed-sitting room is counted as one room only.

Occupied dwelling

For census use, a dwelling is defined as occupied if it is:

  • occupied at midnight on the night of census data collection, or
  • occupied at any time during the 12 hours following midnight on the night of census data collection unless the occupant(s) completed a questionnaire at another dwelling during this period.

This includes occupied dilapidated dwellings and occupied dwellings under construction.

Occupied dwelling type

Occupied dwelling type classifies all occupied dwellings according to their structure and function.

Occupied non-private dwelling

Occupied non-private dwellings provide short or long-term communal or transitory type accommodation. They are generally available to the public for reasons of employment, study, special need, legal requirement, or recreation.
Occupied non-private dwellings include:

  • backpackers, guest accommodation, hotels, motels, youth hostels 
  • camps, communal staff quarters, hospitals, and institutional complexes
  • bed-and-breakfasts, farm stays, and home stays that are mainly intended to be used as facilities for paying guests.

Occupied private dwelling

An occupied private dwelling accommodates a person or group of people and is not generally available for public use. The main purpose of a private dwelling is as a place of habitation; it is usually built (or converted) to function as a self-contained housing unit.

Occupied private dwellings may be considered part of housing stock, or not part of housing stock.

Dwellings that are considered part of housing stock include:

  • houses, flats, units, townhouses and apartments (these may be stand alone or joined together). Generally they will be fully self-contained but there may be exceptions, for instance where several flats share a toilet, laundry, or kitchen
  • independent self-care units in retirement complexes
  • private dwellings within a non-private dwelling structure or complex
  • residences attached to a business or institution.

Dwellings that are not considered part of housing stock include:

  • dwellings in a motor camp. These include any caravan, campervan, house bus, cabin, unit, tent, or improvised dwelling in a motor camp that has permanent residents and is therefore not generally available for public use
  • mobile dwellings. These include any mobile dwelling, on water or land, that is not in a motor camp, such as houseboats, campervans, mobile homes, house buses, house trucks, caravans, and tents. They are intended to be transportable and movable but may be fixed in one location
  • improvised dwellings. These include dwellings or shelters not necessarily erected for human habitation but which are occupied. The structure will support a roof of some kind, no matter how roughly fashioned or makeshift, and will lack some or all of the usual household amenities such as electric lighting, piped water, bathroom, toilet, and kitchen/cooking facilities. For example, shacks, garages, and private vehicles other than those designed as, or converted into, dwellings
  • places of habitation with no dwelling. These include public or outdoor areas, not intended for human habitation but which are occupied, including public parks, bus shelters, under bridges, on beaches, in caves, train stations, doorways, and private property such as car parks, and farm land are included in the roofless or rough sleeper category
  • vehicles lived in
  • vessels lived in.

People may offer board or lodging to paying guests in their own homes (such as bed-and-breakfast, farm stay, home stay, or families hosting foreign students or boarders). Such homes are counted as private dwellings unless their main intent is to house boarders or paying guests.

Private dwelling

See ‘Occupied private dwelling’ on this page.

Unoccupied dwelling

For census use a dwelling is defined as unoccupied if it is unoccupied at midnight and at all times during the next 12 hours following midnight on the night of the data collection.

Unoccupied dwellings may be classified as 'empty' or 'residents away'.

An unoccupied dwelling is classified as 'empty' if it clearly had no current occupants and new occupants are not expected to move in on, or before, census night. Unoccupied dwellings that are being repaired or renovated are defined as empty dwellings. Unoccupied baches or holiday homes are also defined as empty dwellings.

A dwelling is classified as having ‘residents away’ where occupants of a dwelling are known to be temporarily away and are not expected to return on, or before, census night.

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