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Glossary and references


Additional residences

In the census, any identified additional residences that are unoccupied, are classified as 'residents away'.
In some cases, it may not be possible to identify dwellings as additional homes, for example, apartments in high rise buildings. Some of these dwellings may be classified as 'empty' or 'occupied' rather than as 'residents away'.

Dilapidated buildings

Dilapidated buildings are not counted as dwellings if they are unoccupied. If they are being used for shelter, and are therefore occupied during the time period of the data collection, 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: surroundings unkempt or overgrown, extensive exterior deterioration, roof is not weather proof, doors/windows broken or not secure, essential services have been cut, interior is bare and deteriorating, evidence of vandalism. A dwelling may show some signs of neglect without being classed as dilapidated provided these signs are relatively minor, such as a lack of maintenance (paint flaking off), or repairs (for example boarded up windows), or other jobs that are overdue (untidy garden or section), and do not amount to severe overall deterioration.


A dwelling means any building or structure, or part thereof, that is used (or intended to be used) for the purpose of human habitation. It can be of a permanent or temporary nature and includes structures such as houses, motels, hotels, prisons, motor homes, huts, and tents. There can be more than one dwelling within a building, such as an apartment building, each apartment or unit is considered to be a separate dwelling.

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

Non-private dwelling
A non-private dwelling provides short or long-term communal or transitory type accommodation. Non-private dwellings are generally available to the public by virtue of employment, study, special need, legal requirement, or recreation.

Empty dwelling
An unoccupied bach or holiday home is classified as an 'empty dwelling'.

Residents away
An unoccupied dwelling that has been identified as an additional home, and has residents some of the time, is classified as 'residents away'.

  • Unoccupied furnished dwellings are classified as 'residents away'.
  • Unoccupied dwellings, where it is established there are usual residents, who are not present during the period of the data collection, are classified as 'residents away'.
  • In some cases, it may not be possible to establish if there are usual residents. Some of these dwellings may be classified as ‘unoccupied’ and ‘empty’, or as ‘occupied’.

Residual categories

Don’t know

Use of this category is discretionary. The use of a category capturing don't know responses is most applicable to household surveys where don't know may be a legitimate response to certain questions.

Refused to answer

This category is only used when it is known that the respondent has purposefully chosen not to respond to the question. Use of this residual category in processing is optional. Its use is most applicable in face-to-face or telephone interviews, but may be used in self-completed questionnaires if the respondent has clearly indicated they refuse or object to answering the question.

Response unidentifiable

This category is used when there is a response given, but:

  • the response is illegible, or
  • it is unclear what the meaning or intent of the response is – this most commonly occurs when the response being classified contains insufficient detail, is ambiguous or is vague, or
  • the response is contradictory, for example, both the yes and no tick boxes have been ticked, or
  • the response is clear and seemingly within the scope of the classification, but can not be coded because no suitable option (particularly other residual category options such as 'not elsewhere classified' or 'not further defined') exists in the classification or codefile.

Response outside scope

This category is used for responses that are positively identified (that is, the meaning and the intent are clear) but which clearly fall outside the scope of the classification/topic as defined in the standard.

Not stated

This category is only used where a respondent has not given any response to the question asked, that is, it is solely for non-response.


United Nations (1993). "System of National Accounts 1993", Brussels.

United Nations (2008). "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses", (Revision 2), Brussels.

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