TENEMENT (Med. Lat. tenementum, from tenere, to hold), in law, a term which, according to Coke, "includes not only all corporate inheritances which are or may be holden, but also all inheritances issuing out of those inheritances, or concerning, or annexed to, or exercisable within the same" (Co. Litt. 20a). In its more general legal sense it is applied to realty, as opposed to personalty. In its popular sense tenement is used as meaning a house or dwelling, and, more particularly in large cities, tenement houses are buildings occupied by several families living independently of one another, but having a common right in the hall, staircases and outhouses. In the heart of great towns the problem of housing is a difficult one, and it is only of recent years that attention has been directed to the unsuitable and insanitary condition of many houses occupied on the tenement system as defined above, but in many cases never built with the conveniences necessary for joint occupation. In most of the large cities in Great Britain and the United States tenement houses are now built on the most modern plans (see Housing), and it is to be noted that the municipality of New York has a special Tenement-house Department, under charge of a commissioner, with wide authority to supervise the structure of tenement houses and their occupancy in the interest of health and general welfare.
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