If I must ask a person if his house is owned or rented, which word would make a proper relation?

I am looking for something like this:

What's your [...] with the Property (or Car, or Camera)? (Owned, rented.)

I want a single word to place in there, without rephrasing the question. And doesn't need to be just a real-estate property, the subject could be anything that can be owned or borrowed.


"Interest in." Or at least, that's the hypernym that would survive contact with a law professor.

  • I suppose that would be future-tense! – Alexander May 29 '12 at 4:54

I don't think there's any English word that brings that relation immediately to mind. Assuming the question is on a form, I suggest working around the problem by writing something like:

I    own       rent     this property.
      (Circle one)
  • I am not looking for the question, I want the word. Thanks. – Alexander May 29 '12 at 0:44

If you can stand changing your preposition, you could say:

What's your relationship to the property?       Owned      Rented

(I don't consider renting borrowing, so I'm not sure what that part of your question is about.)


I think with may be wrong (using British English, I feel American English speakers overuse it, as with meet with and talk with).

"What's your tenure of the property?" looks reasonable, producing a reply like "I'm the owner/tenant of the property".

  • 4
    I agree about your feeling on the preposition use, but as a U.S. English speaker, I would have to think hard to figure out what you're asking with the question, "What's your tenure of the property?" – JLG May 28 '12 at 14:16

Occupancy status is a possible phrase.

possession status is an alternative.

  • @David Schwartz: My answer was posted before OP's edit. I have now edited my answer suitably. Always think of the possible situations while commenting. – Kris May 30 '12 at 10:53
  • Possession is ⁹⁄₁₀ of the law. – tchrist May 30 '12 at 13:02

While this might seem esoteric at first, a more inclusive question that probably gets closer to the quick of what the OP is trying to learn is to ask "who is the bearer of [BLURGH] ?" which simply means "who holds the title of [BLURGH]?". This is actually a more useful questions because the "rent-or-own?" idiom is deliberately nebulous because so often we say we "own" our car or our house when in fact the entity that really owns it is the financing agency who holds the title until we have paid it off. However, since asking that level of detail would make you seem like a bit of an inquisitor, social mores have us accept that vagueness since the "own" infers that the "owner" is still paying it off, otherwise they probably might proudly say "it's paid off!", but this gets into a whole other area.

Not to derail the OP's question, my point is that when asking someone if they "rent or own?" (which in my mind almost always implies a person's physical residence and fails to address who really owns it) it is unclear whether the OP is just looking for a fancy way to ask "rent or own?" or is the point of the OP's question to clearly determine the status of the person's relationship to the property that they appear to be in possession of? I am inferring that it's the latter that the OP seeks considering that "rent or own?" is so idiomatic it really needs no further explanation or embellishment. Therefore, if it's the hard facts that the OP seeks, "rent or own?" not only fails to address title status, it also doesn't include the possibility that the person is squatting on the property, that the item might be borrowed or stolen, or other imaginative scenarios that might have that person in possession of said [BLURGH].

Sorry if this sounds pedantic, but I thought this 'beared' further discussion. I hope it helps!

  • I assume the OP is looking for a name for a variable or column heading or database attribute that can take enumerated values of “own” or “rent” But asking for help with variable naming is off-topic on ELU so it must be disguised as a SWR. – Jim Jan 21 '18 at 0:00
  • Forgive me... SWR? Since the OP specifically stated this was not just in regards to residence status (where "rent/own" seems about as succinct as one could get), but furthermore the OP then brought up the matter of borrowed property as well, so I felt it stood to reason to suggest that the what OP's was actually seeking was the title-holder status which is really the only standard for ownership, at least in the legal sense, and therefore very much on topic. – Darf Nader Jan 21 '18 at 0:12
  • Single Word Request – Jim Jan 21 '18 at 0:13
  • So bearer then? – Darf Nader Jan 21 '18 at 0:13
  • bearer invites the name of an entity – Jim Jan 21 '18 at 0:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.