Definition of "Apartment (building)"

Heather B. Dunn real estate agent

Written by

Heather B. Dunnelite badge icon

Coldwell Banker

The term apartment is used when referring to a type of residential unit that is self-contained and occupies only a part of the building. Through self-contained, we understand that the residential unit has independent cooking and bathroom facilities that allow it to function as a residence on its own. Apartments are part of an apartment building that contains more than one unit. These apartment buildings are also known as apartment houses. Still, they are different from multi-unit residential occupancies that work as hostels or boarding homes because of the cooking and bathroom facilities included within each individual unit. However, for vacationers, timeshare units for either part-time or full-time ownership can be implemented in apartments.

We need to understand that the word “apartment” is generally used for any kind of residential unit located inside a building. The type of the building and ownership can differ, but as long as the unit has bathroom and cooking facilities, it is an apartment.

Different Apartment Terminology

There are many words used as synonyms to the term “apartment”, but the most common ones are regionally appropriate, like “flat” (British term) and “rental unit” (Australian). The most commonly used term is “apartment” followed by “rental unit” in the US, but here we see a distinction where one is rented. The term “apartment” can refer to both a rental and an owned unit. 

Now, as we already covered that an apartment occupies only a part of a building, can an apartment be a part of a single-family house if the owner decides to rent it to a tenant? The two variants here are: the owner leases the whole house or leases a part of the house that includes cooking and bathing facilities. The answer to the question above is yes, in both variants.

So what is an Apartment?

Well, simply put, an apartment can be a living space located within a residential building or any rented living space. 

When people use the term apartment for a living space in a residential building, it first refers to the architectural structure. It pays no regard to the ownership of the units within the building. The residential building can consist of several living spaces with one, two, or more rooms, and the inhabitants can rent or own the individual units. Those issues don’t matter when it comes to the designation of the apartment. Here we can include co-ops and condos, housing options that usually have a Home Owner’s Association requiring monthly payments but that covers various amenities within a residential building.

Rented living spaces are rented apartments, which exclude co-ops and condos, but can include single-family homes if they are rented.


Need help as a:

I'm interested to:


I work in:

Reach out to the local professionals for help
I agree to receive FREE real estate advice.

Agents, get listed in your area. Sign up Now!

Here's what you'll get:

1. Full zipcodes coverage for the city of your choice for 3 months

2. The ability to reach a wider audience

3. No annual contract and no hidden fees

4. Live customer support/No robo calls

$75 - Any City - 3 Months Coverage
loader gif

Please wait ...

I agree to receive FREE real estate advice
I agree with Terms & Conditions and Section 5-5.9.

image of a real estate dictionary page

Have a question or comment?

We're here to help.

*** Your email address will remain confidential.


Popular Real Estate Terms

The adjudication definition is a legal ruling or judgment used in the justice system when a case is settled or finalized. To define adjudication, we must look at the justice system and how ...

A rectangular area bordered on all sides by buildings. Often, a quadrangle is grassy with decorative landscaping. A quadrangle can be found in a central business district or on the site ...

Aluminum or metal treated barrier that is placed between the concrete and wood of the foundation of a newly constructed building to prevent termites from infesting the wood. Many experts ...

The appraisal approach is used to estimate the value of an asset, based on various factors to reach the closest educated guess of the asset. While an appraisal approach does consider the ...

There’s a lot of confusion regarding the hazard insurance definition. Many people think it’s a synonym for homeowners insurance but they’re wrong. Hazard insurance is ...

Amount the taxpayer gets back when he or she files the tax return at the end of the reporting year because taxes were overpaid for that year. The tax overpayment equals the tax payments ...

Funds of property bestowed upon a person or an institution. The income is used to serve a specific purpose for which the endowment was intended. ...

Category of property zoning that designates property to be used for industrial purposes. Industrial zoning allows manufacturing, research and development purposes, factory office and ...

Part of something such as the units making up a heating or air conditioning system in a building. ...

Popular Real Estate Questions