A private dwelling accommodates a person or a 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.
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: public parks, bus shelters, under bridges, on beaches, in caves, train stations, doorways, and private property such as car parks, and farm land are all 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.