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What Is a Living Unit?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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The term living unit is often used by housing organizations to refer to a single-family residence. The residence may be part of a condominium complex or a house or other building divided into separate suites. While main building entrances as well as amenities such as laundry or a parking area may be shared by residents, the suites are always self-contained. To be considered a self-contained unit, each single residence must have cooking, sleeping and bathing/bathroom facilities.

Living units may be designed for one person or a couple without children, or they may have multiple bedrooms for kids. The size of a living unit will vary depending on the country, location and type of housing. For example, living units rented out to people with low incomes at an affordable rate may be smaller and more modest in design than those for sale in an upscale housing co-operative, or co-op. Although housing co-ops may be budget-oriented or high end, they are usually not able to be resold for more than their original purchase price. Owners participate in running the housing co-operative and pay a share price to own and live in their unit.

Community housing societies are typically different from co-ops in that they don't usually require mandatory participation and match rental accommodation to low-income or special needs clientele. Such housing organizations may offer a low-income person a living unit at a rental cost that is no greater than 30% of his or her gross monthly income. These kinds of rent geared to income (RGI) living units may be called subsidized housing by their governing agency.

Other types of unit housing that may not be income-based include assisted living options and apartments designed for people with disabilities. In the latter case, the rental cost of the living unit may be factored in with each person's monthly disability payment. Some groups manage buildings with suites for people with mental disabilities, while other housing societies may specialize in developing housing units for individuals in wheelchairs. These types of housing units will be completely wheelchair accessible with features such as grab bars and ramps.

Assisted living units are often in a nursing care facility in which elderly people can live independently in a self-contained suite, yet also have help available when they need it. Some of these buildings have a medical staff, while others feature service employees or elder-care aides to help residents with cleaning, cooking or personal care. An assisted living unit for seniors could be privately paid or subsidized by the government, depending on the country.

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