Residential status in a non-private dwelling (RLNP)

Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable describes the residential status of each person in a non-private dwelling. It records whether people enumerated in non-private dwellings (such as motels, hospitals and colleges) are staying there as:

  • members of staff of the accommodation (e.g. owner, proprietor, porter, cook, teacher, warden, family of owner or family of staff)
  • residents
  • guests
  • patients
  • inmates.

Housing and family relationship information is not available for people in non-private dwellings because they are counted using Personal forms.


All persons in a non-private dwelling on Census Night


1Owner, proprietor, staff and family
2Guest, patient, inmate, other resident
&Not stated
@Not applicable
VOverseas visitor

Number of categories:  5

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • Persons in occupied private dwellings
  • Persons in migratory, off-shore or shipping SA1s

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

What is the person’s residential status in this dwelling?

How this variable is created

This variable is collected through the Census Personal form. Data is captured from the Residential status in this dwelling question, and responses are captured in 8 separate mark box responses. These responses are then grouped into two output categories.

History and changes

A question on status in a non-private dwelling was first asked in the 1976 Census and has been asked for every Census since then.

No changes have been made for 2021.

Data use considerations

Residential status in a non-private dwelling is only applicable to persons who were in a non-private dwelling on Census Night and were enumerated on a Census Personal form.

The non-response rate for Residential status in a non-private dwelling (RLNP) was 42.0% in 2021. This is an increase from 27.6% in 2016. Non-response is generally higher for persons who were staying at a non-private dwelling on Census Night than those counted in an occupied private dwelling.

The higher percentage of non-response may be related to COVID-19, the uptake of the online form and the introduction of a new pathway to complete a Census form without receiving Census material in the mail. COVID-19 related restrictions limited the ability to enumerate non-private dwellings using the Personal Form. Additionally, some people staying in non-private dwellings accessed the Household form rather than the Personal form using the new pathway to the Census website. The Household form does not capture details on NPD type and Residential status that are collected on Personal Forms.

Related variables and glossary terms

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