Multi-family residential

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Multifamily residential (also known as multidwelling unit or MDU) is a classification of housing where multiple separate housing units for residential inhabitants are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex. A common form is an apartment building. Sometimes units in a multifamily residential building are condominiums, where typically the units are owned individually rather than leased from a single apartment building owner. Many intentional communities incorporate multifamily residences, such as in cohousing projects.


  • Two-flat - a building basically like a house, commonly built on a house lot, consisting of a flat (apartment) taking up the first floor, another flat taking up the second floor, usually a common basement, a common front entrance, foyer, and stairs to the second floor, and often a similar back entrance, foyer, and stairs. In old buildings, the back entrance, foyer, and stairs may have been added on later. Sometimes there are front verandas for each of flats, one above the other. Typically the whole building is owned by the same party. A property of this type, must have external entrance for each unit, otherwise it can be considered a single unit since for Two-flat, the asset need to comply with the separated units guides created by HUD and regulated by the mortgage industry. '
  • Three-flat - a building similar to a two-flat except there are three flats. Two-flat and possibly three-flat buildings are rather common in certain older neighborhoods in certain cities.
  • Four-flat - a building similar to a three-flat except there are four flats. In some cases, the arrangement of apartments may be different and the lot size may be larger than that of a regular house.
  • Duplex or semi-detached- One building consisting of two separate "houses", typically side by side, each with separate entrances and typically without common inside areas. Each of the two houses typically has separate owners.
  • Townhouse - a house attached to any number of other townhouses each of which may have multiple floors, commonly side by side each with their own separate entrances. Each such house has its own owner.
  • Apartment building - a building with multiple apartments. There can be multiple apartments on each floor and there are often multiple floors. Apartment buildings can range in many sizes, some with only a few apartments, other with hundreds of apartments on many floors, or any size in between. There are often inside hallways and inside entrances to each apartment, but outside entrances to each apartment are also possible. An apartment building can be owned by one party and each of the apartments rented to tenants or each of the apartments can be owned as a condominium by separate parties.
  • Mixed use building - a building with space for both commercial, business, or office use, and space for residential use. Possible arrangements include the commercial/business use on the first or first couple floors and one or more apartments or residential spaces on the upper floors. Another possibility is to have the commercial/business area up front and the residential area in the back. Some or maybe all of the space may be used by the owner or some or all the business and residential units may be leased by the owner. Condominium ownership is also possible.
  • Apartment Community - A collection of apartment buildings on adjoining pieces of land, generally owned by one entity. The buildings often share common grounds and amenities, such as pools, parking areas, and a community clubhouse, used as leasing offices for the community.

MDUs and the Internet[edit]

MDUs present a unique challenge to the distribution of the Internet, because many residents can be inexpensively connected at one time by an ISP. In some cases, the ISP and the MDU create an exclusive agreement, which prevents many residents from selecting their service provider.[1]

The MDU market in the United States has seen changes in the last decade in regards to how cable providers can enter into exclusivity agreements with MDU owners.[2] An FCC ruling in the US Court of Appeals No. 08-1016 decided May 26, 2009 decided among other things the following:

1. Exclusivity Agreements between cable companies and owners of apartment buildings and other multi-unit developments have an anti-competitive effect on the cable market, the Federal Communications Commission has banned such contracts.

2. The Commission believes that these deals—which involve a cable company exchanging a valuable service like wiring a building for the exclusive right to provide service to the residents—may be regulated under section 628 of the Communications Act as cable company practices that significantly impair the ability of their competitors to deliver programming to consumers.

3. The Commission thus forbade cable operators not only from entering into new exclusivity contracts, but also from enforcing old ones.

See more

MDU Internet has seen a dramatic explosion of new distribution models; including Property-Wide WiFi, Fiber to the Unit (FTTU), and various other hybrid WiFi & Internet models. Further, MDU ownership of the onsite portion of the Internet network is now being viewed as a value-added amenity and in some cases a revenue generating service. Hosted Internet Providers (HIP's) are fast becoming a new trend, allowing MDU owners to maximize their ancillary income. MDU ownership of the internet delivery sytem creates inherent synergy and economies of scale. Hiring a niche focused, Full Service Provider (FSP) to install, manage and operate the network vastly improves the chances of a successful deployment.

Best-practices: 1) Hire a FSP to operate from end to end 2) Use quality enterprise equipment and professional design and install 3) Demand a service level agreement (SLA) with your purchase of bandwidth, insure a high level of reliability i.e 99% 4) Provide quality end-user technical support.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ryan, Patrick S; Zwart, Breanna; Whitt, Richard S; Goldburg, Marc; Cerf, Vinton G (2015-08-04). "The Problem of Exclusive Arrangements in Multiple Dwelling Units: Unlocking Broadband Growth in Indonesia and the Global South". The 7th Indonesia International Conference on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Small Business (IICIES 2015): 1–16. 
  2. ^ David Williams, (July 2013). "CABLE CONTRACTS IN APARTMENTS AND MDUS FCC BAN ON EXCLUSIVE CABLE CONTRACTS FROM FEDERAL COURT RULING AND FCC REPORT" Fiber Stream LLC legal memo & report re-released 1-24-2017