is the economic theory of imputation
applied to real estate
In owner-occupancy, the landlord-tenant relationship is short-circuited. Consider two people, A and B, each of whom owns property. If A lives in B's property, and B lives in A's, two financial transactions take place - each pays rent to the other. But if A and B are both owner occupiers, no money changes hands, even though the same economic relationships exists; there are still two owners and two occupiers, but the transactions between them no longer go through the market. The amount that would have changed hands had the owner and occupier been different persons is called the imputed rent. The effect of owner occupancy is therefore that
- the imputed rents disappear from measures of national income and output, unless figures are added to take them into account.
- Government loses the opportunity to tax the transaction. Sometimes governments have attempted to tax the imputed rent (Schedule A of the U.K. income tax used to do this), but this tends to be unpopular.
In population datasets like the CNEF imputed rent is estimated
- for owner-occupiers as a small percentage (4-6%) of the capital accrued in the property
- for public housing tenants as the difference between rent paid and the average rent for a similar property in the same location
- for those living rent-free as the estimate of the rent they would have to pay to rent a similar property in the same location
- for renters in the private market imputed rent is zero