Given a building, how to classify it as マンション or アパート?

Non-subjective set of criteria preferred.
In particular, if there is any legal definition of these terms that would be the best.

I used to think that the difference was subjective, but apparently it is not, as this bank asks its customers to declare formally whether they live in a マンション or アパート (among other options):

Manshon/mansion or Apāto/apartment

  • According to the link below, it is entirely decided by the materials. tasz.sakura.ne.jp. In 15 years I never saw an アパート I would live in , so never checked the box on real estate sites. ;) – kiss-o-matic Jun 4 '15 at 15:36

One way to distinguish is to look at the materials supporting the building's structure:

... is often アパート.

  • Heavy structure with either:

... is often マンション.

As pointed out by @Chocolate, http://house-on.com/onepoint01.html adds a 中高層(3階以上) (=at least 3 floors) condition for being a マンション.

Better/other criteria welcome!

  • 3
    このページの、『国土交通省では、マンションとは「 中高層(3階以上)で分譲・共同住宅、鉄筋コンクリート・鉄骨鉄筋コンクリートまたは鉄骨造の住宅」と定義しています。』っていうのも参考になるかも・・・ – Chocolate Jun 4 '15 at 6:42
  • @Unknown: 私の答より良いので、是非それで新しい答を投票ください :-) – Nicolas Raoul Jun 5 '15 at 1:56

One other distinction I've encountered in translating real estate-related materials is that アパート generally refers to smaller buildings with multiple units, but one owner for the whole building, whereas マンション generally refers to larger buildings with multiple units, where each unit might be owned individually. In this case, the difference between an アパート vs. a マンション is not too dissimilar from the distinction in English between an "apartment" and a "condominium".

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