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An apartment (or flat in Britain and most other Commonwealth countries) is a building where people pay the owner money in order to live there. The owner of the apartment is called the landlord and the people who live in the apartment are called the tenants. The money that the tenants pay in order to live there is called the rent or the rent money. "Rent" also means to pay to live in an apartment; the tenant "rents" the apartment from the landlord.

An apartment building has many apartments in it. In an apartment building, each apartment is a separate room or set of rooms for people to live in. Sometimes an apartment will only be one small room, and tenants will have to share other rooms like the bathroom and kitchen. Other times, tenants will only share an entrance hallway with doors that go to many apartments. This shared area is often cared for by a janitor or concierge.

An apartment complex is a group of apartment buildings. In an apartment complex, all of the apartment buildings are made in a similar way.

In many apartments, the tenants only pay the landlord for renting the apartment, and they have to pay other people to provide utilities like electricity and heat. In some apartments, especially the ones in apartment complexes, the tenants will have to pay more to rent the apartment, but in return the landlord will give them things like utilities, laundry rooms (where people wash their clothing), exercise rooms, and parking spaces for the tenant's car. Many people like this because it means they do not have to keep track of as many bills every month.

Apartment buildings are more common in cities than single apartments or houses, because there is less room in a city to fit buildings. Building a house for one family in a dense city would cost an enormous amount of money compared to building a house outside of a city.