COACH's Pop Quiz!
Q: Two-persons-per-bedroom would be a difficult occupancy standard to justify as reasonable if:
- The landlord has made discriminatory remarks about not wanting to rent to families
- The local building code allows for three-per-bedroom
- The bedrooms are unusually large
- The living and dining rooms are unusually large
- All of the above
A: e, all of the above.
One good approach to establishing occupancy standards is to start with two-persons-per-bedroom and then consider whether there are any other factors dictating for a more or less restrictive rule. All of the listed answer choices are factors you should consider in making this assessment. That’s why e., all of the above, is the right answer.
Right answers explained:
The reason a. is right is that making discriminatory remarks is one of the red flags HUD looks for in determining whether an occupancy standard is reasonable or just a pretext to exclude families with children. Other examples of red flags: a history of excluding families, discriminatory pool or common areas rules, discriminatory advertising, and/or charging families with children higher security deposits.
b. is right because occupancy standards that are more restrictive than state or local requirements—for example, two-per-bedroom in a town where three-per-bedroom is the limit—are highly suspicious and require compelling justification.
c. is right because the size of the bedrooms is one of the factors HUD’s so-called Keating Memo lists as affecting whether two-per-bedroom would be reasonable for a particular unit. In this case, unusually large bedrooms would suggest that it would be safe, sanitary, and habitable for more than two people to share a bedroom.
d. is right because the configuration of the unit is another Keating Memo factor. An unusually large amount of living room and dining room space would cast doubt on the reasonableness of a two-per-bedroom rule and force the landlord to explain why it couldn’t just convert at least some of the extra living space into a bedroom.
For six rules to follow for avoiding liability risks when setting and enforcing occupancy standards, see the Coach’s October 2022 lesson, “Make Sure Your Occupancy Standards Don't Discriminate Against Families with Children,” available to premium subscribers here.