I have a difficulty know which tense I should use in this case.

I am to state factual information, what should I say?

in 2011, only 46% of the houses were rented/ have been rented/ had been rented.

What tense should I use?


We assume that you are about to make this statement at present about a situation that existed seven years ago.

Therefore, the situation is in the past and you would normally say:

In 2011 only 46% of houses were rented.

However, you might wish to add something to the sentence that suggested the past perfect tense:

In 2011 only 46% of houses had been rented before the government changed the rental laws.

Here, the use of had been emphasizes that the percentage of rented houses was measured before the legislation came into effect.

Many English speakers would simply say that the houses were rented before the government changed the rental laws. It's optional. The past perfect merely underlines the sequence of events.

If you were talking about the percentage of houses rented so far this year, you would say:

In 2018 only 46% of houses have been rented.

as it is still 2018 and the houses are still being rented.

So we are talking about a situation that began some months ago and is still current today.


When the time-phrase in a clause excludes the present, you cannot use the present perfect.

In 2011 time-phrase, only 46% of the houses have been rented. NO

However, if the phrase "in 2011" does not refer to a time, but to a label on a chart, say, then this rule does not apply:

As you can see from the chart, in 2011 only 46% of the houses have been rented.

There "in 2011" is not strictly speaking a time-phrase, but a reference to a label on a chart. The reference is to the data on the chart before us now, the one we are examining at this moment, and in that case the present perfect is a valid choice.

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