Am I allowed to refuse a larger family than I think appropriate?

5 Replies

I know family status is a protected class, but must I rent to an applicant that while they don't violate the state occupancy limits, seems too much by my judgement? 

I have a 450 ft 1BR that a family of 3 is inquiring about. That seems too small even though the state allows occupancy of non-bedroom space. Of course I wouldn't be kicking out a couple that had a baby while in residence, but I'd expect them to move soon, and they usually do, even from my small 2BRs. 

I've actually had inquiries of 4 adults for these units! I'd rather lose a month than rent to people so close to the edge. I stated in the ad I required 3x gross rent in income, and had an inquiry that wasn't even 1.8x!  I Don't know what they're thinking never mind how they manage.

Originally posted by @Johann Jells :

I know family status is a protected class, but must I rent to an applicant that while they don't violate the state occupancy limits, seems too much by my judgement? 

Sure you can. There is an exception to laws called the "in my judgment" exception. It allows your personal opinion to overrule all laws. I use it all the time. I'm sorry officer, but in my judgment, the speed limit really should be 115 MPH. Works all the time!

Different laws vary state to state but generally I believe it is 2 people per bedroom plus 1.  Think about your grandparents and the houses that generation used to live in with it not being unusual for 5+ children plus parents to live in a 3 bedroom house that would be small by todays standards but was normal then.  I had a woman who wanted to move into a 3 bedroom with her mom and 8 kids, they didn't qualify income wise either so it was a non issue.  The group of 4 probably doesn't want to live that way as well but with 1.8x the monthly rent where they don't qualify together definingly won't qualify on their own so they really have no choice.  Of course the fewer you have in the unit the less ware and tare but you can't discriminate based on it for family status with children to be more restrictive than your local housing guidelines.  If you are paying utilities this would be a bigger deal but if a couple and a child or 2 want to live that way I see it as responsible to not overleverage on their housing costs, hopefully they are using it to save to better their future situation.  

Originally posted by @Adam Martin :

Different laws vary state to state but generally I believe it is 2 people per bedroom plus 1.  Think about your grandparents and the houses that generation used to live in with it not being unusual for 5+ children plus parents to live in a 3 bedroom house that would be small by todays standards but was normal then.   

I raised my two children and still live with my wife in a 1200 ft four bedroom apartment, something that many if you out there would consider hardship and not what you would do if you have choices. But to me two adults and a child in 450 ft is  several levels different from that.  They could easily get a two bedroom in a neighborhood the next tier down of gentrification not far away.

However, the law is the law, so I will certainly not be turning down anyone based on their family situation.


I have been a homemaker and am still raising my children. -That is my "expertise". I am new at landlording. With that being said, would it be possible for you to have a window in which you accept applications? You could make clear what you are looking for or require in/from a tenant. Do not run any background checks, etc until after the application window has closed. Then, go through the applications in the order in which they were received. However, if one that was received later in the line up is better qualified, run their background, criminal, rental histories first. If they still look good, then you tell the one whose app came in first, that another applicant was better qualified. Does anyone see any reason this couldn't work?