Occupancy is the word of the day- but what exactly does it mean in the world of landlords and tenants? The following definitions and examples of occupancy provide a clear picture of what it means to property owners and their tenants.

Understanding occupancy law is essential for landlords to protect their properties and for tenants to understand their rights. The first step to mastering the ins and outs of occupancy law is better understanding the meaning of the word.

Dictionary Definition of the Word Occupancy

The official definition of occupancy (noun) as described by the property Collins English Dictionary is to hold, possess, or reside in or on something. It can also mean taking possession or acquiring ownership of a previously unowned object or piece of land.

If a property is under-occupancy, it is in the state of being occupied. To occupy (verb) is the act of residing in or on an area, either legally or illegally. You can occupy an apartment legally by signing a lease, or you can illegally occupy it by squatting.

Occupancy In a Sentence

According to his contract, his occupancy of the premises lasted for one year.

The family had continued occupancy of the estate for more than five generations.

Such a building with overcrowded occupancy should offer a rent reduction to the people living there.

Legal Definition of Occupancy

Legally, the occupancy noun is defined as when a person has ownership or possession of land, a room, or a building that is actively living in or using it as a tenant or owner. The law also defines the word as the act of an occupant taking possession of abandoned property with the intention of claiming ownership.

Legal Occupancy VS Illegal Occupancy

Regardless of legality, the word occupancy still means the same thing. However, the acts are very different. In the case of a landlord renting out apartments in a three-story complex, they may have 15 units in total.

12 of them are under legal occupancy, meaning they have signed contracts and leases with the people inside. Two are unoccupied, meaning they are available. The final unit has three tenants living there who stopped paying rent two months ago when their lease expired, but they refuse to leave. This is illegal occupancy, but occupancy is all the same.

What Is the Occupancy Rate?

Occupancy rates or occupancy levels are how many people can, or currently are, residing in a property or building. An occupancy rate can be expressed as a figure or percentage, depending on the purpose of the report.

To give an example, if a property has four rooms and two of them are occupied, the occupancy rate is 50%. Alternatively, you could describe the rate as 20 if you currently have 20 people in-house. Either way, it is the number of people by which an area is being occupied.

Occupancy Rate in a Sentence

The occupancy rate is at 100%- every room is full!

Over an extended period of time, the occupancy rate gradually declined.

If the occupancy rate does not return to an acceptable level, the tenants plan to act!

Maximum Occupancy Definition

The occupant capacity limit in a house or building is known as the maximum occupancy. If a property is not intended for use by any more than six people, for example, this would be the max occupancy. It has a closely related meaning to max capacity, as both definitions are almost the same.

Building codes and safety regulations usually stipulate how many persons may occupy a property simultaneously. Rental law also addresses occupancy rules for residential and commercial spaces.

The max occupancy of a house, building, or office depends on the size, the facilities, and the local regulations.

What Does Taking Occupancy Mean?

Taking occupancy is the act of claiming possession of a property for the intended use of becoming an owner or tenant. If a person moves into a new house, they are taking possession or taking occupancy of the premises.

When this happens, a certificate of occupancy is awarded to the new tenant for the period of time they plan to stay. As a landlord, it is important to provide and sign this document for anyone occupying your property, in case of any legal dispute.

What Is Double Occupancy?

Double occupancy (noun) is a term used predominantly in the hospitality industry where rooms are rented individually. Single occupancy means there is only one individual residing in a unit, but a double occupied room would have two individuals.


Our word of the day occupancy can take on various meanings depending on the context, but it basically means the condition of being occupied.

As a landlord or owner, occupancy is what generates income. When you sign an occupancy agreement with a new renter, it is the act of occupying that particular unit. Understanding occupancy law is essential for successful leasing, and it begins with knowing the exact definition of the word.

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!