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Definition

Tenure of household is a derived variable, which classifies households in private dwellings according to whether the household rents, owns, or holds the dwelling in a family trust, and if payment is made by the household for the right to reside in the dwelling.

Tenure of household does not refer to the tenure of the land on which the dwelling is situated.

A dwelling held in a family trust is owned by the family trust, and therefore, the household does not directly own the dwelling.

‘Dwelling’ and ‘household’ are supporting concepts and are defined in the glossary.

Operational issues

Tenure of household refers only to the dwelling and not to the land on which the dwelling is situated. For example, a dwelling that is on leasehold land would be classified as ‘owned or partly owned’ and either 'with making mortgage payments' or 'without making mortgage payments', as appropriate.

Respondents who purchase dwellings under unit title, stratum title, licence to occupy, or composite leasehold are classified as 'owned or partly owned'. This category may include residents occupying self-care flats, townhouses, apartments, or units in a retirement complex.

Respondents who occupy a dwelling under a rent-to-buy or similar agreement are not defined as owning (or partly owning) their dwelling, and are classified as renting.

If a private dwelling such as a caravan, tent, or motor home has been bought under hire purchase or some other financial loan agreement, the dwelling should be classified as 'owned or partly owned'. As mortgages are generally not taken against these types of dwellings, the respondent should be directed to answer the tenure questions as an owner who does not make mortgage payments.

Reverse mortgages should not be included in the 'mortgage payments made' category for tenure of household. A reverse mortgage is a loan against the equity in a home. The loan and its accumulated interest are repaid when the person dies or the home is sold. Respondents with reverse mortgages should be directed to answer the tenure questions as an owner who does not make mortgage payments.

Explanatory notes

The concept of ‘tenure of dwelling’ underwent a change before the 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings. Tenure, which had been an attribute of the dwelling, was changed to be an attribute of the household. This change occurred to fill a need for information about whether households, families, or economic units are paying for their shelter needs.

'Family trust' has been added to the standard in 2008 to give more detail about household tenure, to cover an area of economic interest, and to improve confidence in the calculation of owner-occupied status. Before this addition, there were inconsistencies in survey responses to the ownership question for respondents in this situation. As there were no direct questions about dwellings held in family trusts, it was not clear where they were being classified and information given depended on respondents' interpretation, and/or whether they had read the guide notes. It is likely that in the past, these households were spread across the 'owned' and 'not owned' categories, but it is not possible to quantify how many were in each category.

The addition of family trust posed the question of whether private dwellings could be held in other types of trust. Our investigation showed that it was very unlikely. For help with understanding how other types of trusts relate to the ownership of dwellings, see the glossary for definitions of the following trusts: charitable trusts, education trusts, funeral trusts, inheritance trusts, and private trusts.

The other change to the standard was to remove reference to 'usual resident(s)' from the classifications. The term usual resident(s) is implicit within the term household, in that a household is a person or group of people who usually reside together in the same dwelling. Therefore, the ownership of dwelling, mortgage payments, rent indicator, and tenure of household classifications have all had the term usual resident(s) removed.

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