Frequently, people call up about a particular home, and they want to know how many people they can have live there. You’d think they’d be interested in finding a home for the number of people they have, but maybe that number is flexible, and they’ll add people if they can. Today, we are talking about occupancy standards and housing discrimination.
Occupancy Standards and The Keating Memo
There is no clear standard or law that says how many people you can put in a house. However, there are some guidelines. Years ago, HUD put out a memo called the Keating memo. In this memo, the standard is two people per bedroom, plus one. But, that’s not an ironclad rule. You have to have at least 120 square feet for the unit, and a bedroom has to be 70 square feet. For an additional person, you’ll need an additional 50 feet. So, two people would need would need 120 square feet, with 50 more square feet for a third person. You also need to consider the age of children. Smaller children can occupy a smaller space. Remember that you cannot discriminate against children. That will get you in trouble quickly.
Property Size and Systems
The configuration of the house will also affect how many people can live there. The property may have physical limits. If you’re on a septic system and you’ve had problems in the past with larger groups of people living in your property, you may have to reduce the number of people who live there until you can rebuild the septic system.
Fair Housing: Watch What You Say
One additional item that can easily get you into trouble as a landlord is what you might say out loud. Don’t tell prospective tenants that you won’t rent to families with children. It’s illegal to discriminate against married people. So, consider this when you’re renting out your property. Spouses and kids come with extra considerations.
Understand State and Local Laws
State and local laws may have a bearing on how many people can live in your house. In Livermore, this is not a factor. State fair housing laws, however, are always a factor, and you should also pay attention to court cases. People will try to rent smaller, lower cost homes and then put more people in there. That can contribute to more wear on your property.
Come up with fair, consistent occupancy standards. Know that if you’re challenged, a judge will decide whether you’re right. Hopefully, you will never find yourself in that situation.
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- Ken Bradley
- ken Bradley