New Provo City Zoning Ordinance

8 Replies

I have a five-bed, two bath unit in Provo that's currently rented to five singles. I just became aware of the new rental disclosure requirement which requires landlords to have all tenants sign a statement that only 3 unrelated singles are living at the property and Provo now classifying zoning violations as a misdemeanor. This really boils my blood. Just wondering if anyone has found a creative way around this, if anyone has heard of a movement to appeal this with the city council, or if anyone knows a way of getting an exception based on number of bedrooms and parking. Any help would be extremely appreciated. 

@Matt Prawitt this ordinance is very common in college towns, including my market in Columbia, South Carolina. I know of many landlords that have gotten fined and/or had tenants evicted because of this.

The former Attorney General and current Governor of our state, Henry McMaster, actually owns quite a few rentals in my market. He took this ordinance all the way to the SC supreme court and lost: SC Supreme Court Decision.

I figured that if the AG/future Governor can't change the law then surely I can't do anything about it.

The way to get around this in my market is to have a duplex, triplex, quad, etc. Our law states that it is 3 unrelated people per unit. Even a guest house is considered a separate unit. Other than that I'm unaware of how to get around it. 

I'd recommend running the numbers with just 3 per unit if it's a SFH.

Being a Landlord is stressful enough without having to worry about the city knocking on your door one day and kicking your tenants out.

@Matt Prawitt , @Will Gaston is absolutely right.  Don't risk trying to sneak around the law.  

This has been challenged a lot here in Columbia to know avail.  Only way around it, is to make the home a duplex...

The only way around this in Provo is to pursue the head of household occupancy. That HoH applies if you are an owner occupant or have dependents, and you have family living with you, and then have two additional related or unrelated singles living with you. As you might imagine, that's not super common and really only exists to allow for caretaker situations.  Just as an FYI, for at least the last 20 years Provo has been a 3 singles limit except in certain zones with master planned communities or grandfathered housing.   If you purchased your home through from a licensed agent you should have received a zoning disclosure, which tells you the legal use.  The limit has always been enforced, but the new ordinance puts more of an onus on tenants and landlords to be transparent about how they are renting and whether their occupancy is legal.

Would it be possible to convert a SFH into seperate apartments by adding entrances, doors, walls and having a communal area for the kitchen and living/laundry room similar to a dorm style? I know it would be expensive but if an addition can be made to maintain the number of renters could it be worth it?

The 3 unrelated persons limit has been the zoning in Provo for at least the last 20 years - probably longer than that.  I believe all the shared housing that exceeds 3 peeps (i.e. near BYU) is zoned different.   It appears the only significant piece of the new regulation is changing the severity of the violation.

You could apply for a variance, but I've worked with several city councils and I've not had great luck getting a variance because the property is an investment.

If you're in violation of the zoning, then you're in violation - BUT - chances are you've got time to bring the situation into compliance.  I'm sure zoning enforcement officers are slammed (Orem is at least 60 days out from even doing a drive-by for weed abatement).  You could always just tell your tenants to keep things quiet and you may never have a problem - or you get caught and get a fine.

Anyone have the actual wording of the law. 30 minutes on the city website got me nowhere for the actual law. Nothing about occupancy or relatives.  I have a condo with occupancy of 3 (3 bedrooms/ 3 parking) but have 2 kids (obviously they are related) I may need them to share the master bedroom and rent the other 2 out to other students, but without the actual script of the law who is to know if I'm going to be guilty of a misdemeanor.  I love Provo, but it seems to be heading towards being annexed into California (and being a California Native that would truly be a travesty for Provo). Anyone with a link to the actual law talking about related house occupants in Provo?

This is from the Provo Code 14.06: 

"“Family,” unless otherwise expressly provided in this Title means:

(a) One (1) individual living alone; or

(b) One (1), but not more than one (1) at the same time, of the following groups of individuals described in subsections (i), (ii), or (iii) who together occupy a one-family dwelling unit as one (1) nonprofit housekeeping unit and who share common living, sleeping, cooking and eating facilities:

(i) A head of household and:

(A) All persons related to the head of household as a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, great-grandparent or great-grandchild by blood, marriage, adoption, guardianship, or any other duly authorized custodial relationship; and

(B) Not more than two (2) additional related or unrelated persons, including but not limited to, personal care or personal service providers; or

(ii) In R1 zones located within neighborhood areas described in Subsection (c) of the definition of “baching singles” in this Section, two (2) related or unrelated individuals and any children of either individual, if any; or

(iii) In all other zones, three (3) related or unrelated individuals and any children of either individual, if any."

It appears that subsection (i) allows for head of household, all blood relatives of that head of household, plus two unrelated individuals. I also spoke with a Provo zoning officer that confirmed that interpretation. So you should be fine with having your two kids and two unrelated singles in the unit. 

Thanks, although clear as mud!

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