Limit to single occupancy via lease by bed arrangement

6 Replies

We just bought a SFH in a college town. There are apartment complexes that lease by the bed and, in the lease, limit occupancy to a single bed in some of their bedrooms. Our home has three bedrooms and we'd like to have a similar arrangement to limit wear and tear. But from what I've read so far, this seems to go against the fair housing act and discriminates against familial status.

Are the laws different for apartment complexes? Or does leasing by the bed let you sidestep this issue? Thanks!

It sounds like it may be a local ordinance, or those particular apartments are piggybacking off each other, using an illegal approach to limiting the number of occupants. My suggestion would be to first read up on the State Landlord-Tenant laws if you're unfamiliar with them, and then find any local ordinances which may account for the 1 bed per bedroom rules in those apartments. Failing to find that information, I would consult with a local attorney.

As much as you may want to limit wear and tear, legal issues will result in far more out of pocket than extra wear and tear from 1 or 2 extra tenants.

Thanks for the reply, John. Another thing they are doing is leasing a single bedroom in a unit for $1000 for one person or $800/each for two people. I know I can increase my income by charging a higher utility cost with additional tenants, but is this something I can replicate or should I also read up on this issue as well? Thank you.

I would have to differ again to local laws and I'm also unfamiliar with renting out bedrooms instead of whole units. Someone else may be able to give more insight into that, sorry I can't help more.

You are (generally) allowed to establish occupancy limits but they must be reasonable and justifiable. Do a search for "HUD Keating Memo" or "HUD occupancy limits" and you should find plenty of information.

However, my recommendation is for you to contact an attorney. There's nothing in the Keating memo that would enable you to limit occupancy to one individual although you may be able to charge $XXXX for single occupancy and then an increase for any additional occupant with a limit of two per bedroom. An attorney can help you navigate your local and state laws and keep you out of hot water.

Most of the municipalities in my locale limit occupancy to no more that 2 persons per bedroom.  that being said, they usually also have limits on the number of 'unrelated' individuals that may occupy a housing unit, ie apartment or single-family house. 

Above advise re HUD etc by @Nathan G. is right on, but a discussion with your local zoning/housing department is imperative.  Don't get caught flat-footed on this one--it could end up biting at you from both the tenant and municipality sides. 

Hope this helps.

Marc Winter, Real Estate Agent

The Keating Memo was an interesting read.  These apartment bedrooms are not tiny by any means, so I'm even more confused as to how they're able to have this in their leases. The vast majority of apartments that "rent by the bed" here have single occupancy in the bedrooms. Even four bedroom apartments only average 4.8 tenants!

Davis doesn't have an unrelated individuals limit but I will be contacting the local departments, and I'll have to find a local lawyer. Thank you again for all the help! 

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