Tip of the Month - May 2009

Occupancy Standards

Source: Professional Apartment Management
              F. Willis Caruso, Esq./Nanette Cavarretta
              Nadeen W. Green, Esq.

Fair housing law says its okay to have standards, as long as they meet federal guidelines.  But what appears to be a neutral occupancy standard may seem discriminatory to people of certain origins. That is because certain national origins traditionally have larger families.  For instance, Hispanic and Asian households are often multigenerational-that is-grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren often live together.

Make sure your occupancy standards are based on reasonable, objective criteria (such as square footage or number of bedrooms).  And that they conform to federal, state, and local guidelines.  HUD has indicated that it would generally consider an occupancy standard of –2- people per bedroom reasonable, with some exceptions.  For instance, if your apartments have very large rooms, your occupancy standard might have to allow for more that –2- people per bedroom.

Or you could safely base your occupancy standards on the Uniform Housing Code, which suggest that a bedroom shared by –2- people be at least 70 square feet and for each additional person in the bedroom, another 50 square feet.  Under that standard, in order for, say, -3- people to share a bedroom, the room must be at least 120 square feet.

Always make sure your occupancy standards apply consistently to all prospects, regardless of national origin.  You could get into trouble if you don’t.

Return to prior page

This web page was updated on 05/04/2009.