COACH's Pop Quiz!

Q: When setting occupancy standards, communities may factor in any limitations of building systems—such as the load on water, septic, sewer, and electrical systems—along with other factors pertinent to the size and configuration of the units. True or false?


A: True. When setting your occupancy policies, the physical limitations of the building and its systems may provide a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for limiting the number of people allowed to live there. According to HUD guidelines, the age or capacity of the building and other physical limitations, along with the size of the bedrooms and overall size and configuration of the unit, are relevant for determining whether a community’s occupancy standards are reasonable.

In November, Fair Housing Coach takes an in-depth look at occupancy standards, an increasing concern for housing communities. As a general rule, fair housing law doesn’t prevent communities from maintaining reasonable occupancy policies, but it’s unlawful to set overly restrictive occupancy standards that have the effect of excluding families with children.

Across the country, communities have come to rely on the industry standard—”two-persons per bedroom”—as a reasonable occupancy standard, but recently some communities have faced lawsuits by fair housing advocates challenging this standard. Though only a few cases have been filed so far, it may be a good time to review the occupancy policies at your community.

For more information, see the Coach’s November 2016 lesson, “Take A Fresh Look at Your Occupancy Standards,” available to subscribers here.