Setting occupancy limits for apartments ensures that a housing unit has enough room for the tenants to move around. And, it remains clean as well as safe. An overcrowded rental unit may eventually lead to excessive damage, safety and sanitary concerns, and pest infestation. 

Occupancy limits for apartments prevent unsafe living conditions by limiting the number of people residing in the rental property. 

Read on to know how you can do it and why it’s essential.

What are the occupancy limits for apartments? 

occupancy limits for apartments

Occupancy limits are primarily local laws, varying from one state to another, that restrict the number of people allowed in each bedroom in a rental unit. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), individual public housing agencies must comply with all the state or local restrictions pertaining to the occupancy standards and limits in a dwelling unit. The HUD’s suggested standard is to accommodate two individuals per bedroom. 

Why are these limits important?

Landlords or property managers need to limit the number of occupants to prevent overcrowding, general wear and tear on the property, and any safety, sanitary, or health issues of the tenants. Moreover, the limitation ensures that any additional people, not on the lease agreement, cannot legally move in.

However, landlords can under no circumstances encourage any discrimination for familial status while setting the maximum occupancy limit. This can violate the Fair Housing Act.  

Can a landlord limit the tenant occupancy?

The landlord will need to look at the local laws. The fair housing regulations recommend two people per bedroom but it doesn’t say anything about the age of the occupant. Most state and municipal building codes recommend a certain number of square feet of living space for each occupant.

How should a landlord state the occupancy limit?

decor ideas for apartments

A landlord must contact the local code enforcement agency to find out the occupancy regulations and ordinances. And, base the limit on the number of people living in the rental space accordingly. They will have to include an occupancy clause in the lease and be very clear to prospective renters regarding the number of adults allowed as permanent residents as per the number of bedrooms in the apartment. 

What’s the occupancy for a one-bedroom apartment?

The answer to this will depend on the particular city. For example, the occupancy law in New York State requires that a bedroom with one occupant should be a minimum of 70 square feet. Such a small bedroom will barely accommodate a regular-sized bed and dresser. And if the room is occupied by more than one person, it should have 50 square feet for each occupant. There are also occupancy laws regarding living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens. So, a one-bedroom apartment with a 100-square-foot living room and a 70-square-foot bedroom will allow maximum occupancy of two people. Similarly, you can figure out the occupancy rate for a two-bedroom apartment and a three-bedroom apartment. 

The standard in California is two people plus one for one bedroom. The Chicago occupancy rule allows three people to occupy a bedroom if one of them is a child.

What if a tenant violates the occupancy limit?

Landlord and occupancy limits

The landlord must ensure that the rental lease has a clear clause outlining the expected occupancy limits in the apartment. It should also include the duration a visitor can live on the property before violating the lease. Once the tenant signs the rent lease, they are legally bound to its terms and conditions. If a tenant hosts a long-term guest or allows another tenant to move in without the landlord’s knowledge, they stand in violation of the occupancy limit and can be evicted by the landlord.

Last thoughts

It should be a priority for a landlord to maintain a safe and habitable property through regular inspections and maintenance, and by following the occupancy limits for apartments. 

When it comes to occupancy, the landlord has to steer clear of any kind of discrimination against student renters or families with children. That is to say, while they cannot reject an applicant just because they have minor dependents, they can do so if the total number of adults and children exceeds the occupancy limit. 

Keep in mind that different cities have different standards of occupancy in a single rental unit – some have the person per bedroom rule while others use the square foot per person ratio. 

What are the occupancy limits for apartments? was last modified: January 26th, 2023 by Ramona Sinha
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