|Apartment types and characteristics
A living room in Avalon Riverview North, a New York city luxury apartment building.
Apartments can be classified into several types. One is a Studio, efficiency, bedsit, or bachelor style apartment. These all tend to be the smallest apartments with the cheapest rents in a given area. These kinds of apartment usually consist mainly of a large room which is the living, dining, and bedroom combined. There are usually kitchen facilities as part of this central room, but the bathroom is its own smaller separate room.
Moving up from the efficiencies are one-bedroom apartments, in which one bedroom is separate from the rest of the apartment. Then there are two-bedroom, three-bedroom, etc. apartments. Small apartments often have only one entrance.
Large apartments often have two entrances, perhaps a door in the front and another in the back. Depending on the building design, the entrance doors may be directly to the outside or to a common area inside, such as a hallway. Depending on location, apartments may be available for rent furnished with furniture or unfurnished into which a tenant usually moves in with their own furniture. A garden apartment has some characteristics of a townhouse: each apartment has its own entrance, and apartments are not placed vertically over one another. However, a garden apartment is usually only one story high and never more than two stories; they are often one-bedrooms and almost never more than two-bedrooms. Some garden apartment buildings place a one-car garage under each apartment, with pedestrian entrances from a common courtyard open at one end. The grounds are more landscaped than for other modestly scaled apartments. (Alternately, "garden apartment" can refer to a unit built half below grade, putting its windows at garden level.
Laundry facilities may be found in a common area accessible to all the tenants in the building, or each apartment may have its own facilities. Depending on when the building was built and the design of the building, utilities such as water, heating, and electricity may be common for all the apartments in the building or separate for each apartment and billed separately to each tenant (however, many areas in the US have ruled it illegal to split a water bill among all the tenants, especially if a pool is on the premises). Outlets for connection to telephones are typically included in apartments. Telephone service is optional and is practically always billed separately from the rent payments. Cable television and similar amenities are extra also. Parking space(s), air conditioner, and extra storage space may or may not be included with an apartment. Rental leases often limit the maximum number of people who can reside in each apartment. On or around the ground floor of the apartment building, a series of mailboxes are typically kept in a location accessible to the public and, thus, to the mailman too. Every unit typically gets its own mailbox with individual keys to it. Some very large apartment buildings with a full-time staff may take mail from the mailman and provide mail-sorting service. Near the mailboxes or some other location accessible by outsiders, there may be a buzzer (equivalent to a doorbell) for each individual unit. In smaller apartment buildings such as two- or three-flats, or even four-flats, garbage is often disposed of in trash containers similar to those used at houses. In larger buildings, garbage is often collected in a common trash bin or Dumpster. For cleanliness or minimizing noise, many lessors will place restrictions on tenants regarding keeping pets in an apartment.
In some parts of the world, the word apartment refers to a new purpose-built self-contained residential unit in a building, whereas the word flat means a converted self-contained unit in an older building. An industrial, warehouse, or commercial space converted to an apartment is commonly called a loft.
When part of a house is converted for the ostensible use of a landlord's family member, the unit may be known as an in-law apartment or granny flat, though these (sometimes illegally) created units are often occupied by ordinary renters rather than family members. In Canada these suites are commonly located in the basements of houses and are therefore normally called basement suites or "mother-in-law suites."
In Milwaukee vernacular architecture, a Polish flat is an existing small house or cottage that has been lifted up to accommodate the creation of a new basement floor housing a separate apartment, then set down again; thus becoming a modest two-story flat.
In Russia, a communal apartment («??????????») is a room with a shared kitchen and bath. A typical arrangement is a cluster of five or so apartments with their common kitchen and bathroom and their own front door, occupying a floor in a pre-Revolutionary mansions. Traditionally a room is owned by the government and assigned to a family on a semi-permanent basis. It is possible to "privatize" a room by paying a large sum of money to the government; then it can legally be sold.