What Is a Duplex?

A duplex looks like a house but functions as an apartment. A duplex contains exactly two apartment units for two separate renters or groups of renters. The two units share one wall going down the middle of the house, splitting the duplex into equal living spaces.

Duplex Structure

A duplex is typically a one-story house that has two living spaces down the middle, though there are some duplexes that have a basement unit and a first-floor unit.

Duplex Rental

Despite its house exterior, a duplex's residents usually pay rent for it since they are basically renting a more spacious apartment.

Duplex Renters

The most common duplex renters are newly married couples or families, especially married couples with new babies. A duplex offers a smooth transition between apartment life to house life.


Those who rent a duplex are not responsible for building damages and repairs, as they would be if they owned their own home. Any building problems are the landlord's responsibility (see Resources).


The main drawbacks of a duplex is that it is not a solid a real-estate investment--unless you are purchasing a duplex as a landlord. A duplex renter may also have to deal with unpleasant neighbors whose sounds can be heard through the shared wall.