Livable, Rentable & Usable Area: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Tara Schofield

Tara has a PhD in Marketing & Management

How can you compare different homes or apartments when the square footage is measured with different methods? Use the information in this lesson to sort out three of the most common measurements.

Overview of Area Options

You are looking to move into an apartment complex and are trying to figure out the differences in the spaces promoted by different places. Some leasing offices report 'livable space', others 'rentable space', and still others 'usable space'.

When you look at all three types, you find they vary substantially. Let's look at how one space can be measured three different ways using the most common square footage methods.

What is Rentable Space?

Rentable space is the most liberal calculation and will report the largest space. Let's imagine you find one apartment and want to compare the three ways of measuring square feet. With rentable space you include the entire space of the apartment, including closets, stairs, and hallways, but you also include a portion of the common areas.

For instance, if there is 100,000 square feet in apartment space and your apartment is 10,000 square feet, you occupy 10% of the available apartment space. If there is 50,000 square feet in common area, 10% of that space is added to your rental space. The common area can include the fitness area, lobby space, meeting space, or other open areas.

You may be told you are renting 15,000 square feet, but they're including that 5,000 square feet of common space. When rentable space is reported, you need to understand that your livable space is not the same as the total number reported to you.

Rentable space may be an impressive number for the apartment complex to report. but may not be helpful for you when comparing different apartments and different size units.

What is Usable Space?

Usable space is the entire home or apartment. This space is wall to wall with all interior spaces included. It's not uncommon for patios or porches to be included if they are heated or air conditioned.

When you look at the apartment from a usable space perspective, you remove the common spaces but include all of the interior spaces of your apartment. This includes storage, closets, laundry rooms, etc.

When you calculate this space, the same apartment is 9,025 usable square feet space. If you are concerned about your actual space but want to ensure you have plenty of closet and storage space, you may be most satisfied with a usable space evaluation.

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