7 FAQs About Zoning, "How Many People Can Live in a House?"

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By Jamie Ayers Updated March 9, 2023


Find out about occupancy limits for homes. Learn how to figure out how many individuals can occupy a two- or three-bedroom home. Discover how a Clever Partner Agent can assist you in finding a larger space for you and your extended family.

7 FAQs About Zoning,

How do zoning issues affect how many people can live in a single home? Read on to learn the occupancy rules and whether a landlord can limit the number of people living in a particular house.

How many people can live in a three-bedroom house?

This question is more complicated than one would think as the answer depends upon state and local ordinances.

According to the Federal Occupancy Standards set by Housing and Urban Development, seven people can live in a three-bedroom house that also has a separate living room. The number may be smaller than that if the people are unrelated.

HUD guidelines also state that each person should have 165 square feet in a home. So an 11 x 15 bedroom can hold one person, but a 15 x 22 bedroom could hold two people.

If you are Googling this question, then perhaps it is time to move. There are plenty of first-time home buyer programs available to individuals with an array of credit histories.

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How many people can live in a two-bedroom house?

As a general rule, to determine the occupancy for a house, you can use the 2+1 rule. Each bedroom can hold two people plus one additional occupant. Using this guideline, a two-bedroom house could hold five people.

The correct answer to this question is more complicated and depends on municipal and state zoning laws. Occupancy is also reliant on the square footage of the house, the sewage system limitations, and the age of the occupants.

If you’re concerned that your home is too small for the number of occupants, it may be time to move. The home buying process is easy if you have a professional walk you through the process.

Can a landlord limit occupancy?

Occupancy requirements are complicated, and the answer depends on local and state zoning laws. The number of people allowed in the home also depends on the square footage of the house and the septic system.

If your landlord has hinted that your rental home may be too crowded, it may be time to look for larger accommodations. There are some programs available for people who have very little money for a down payment. These programs also include the ability to purchase mortgage insurance at a discounted rate.

Can multiple families live in a single-family home?

The answer to this question is complicated. It depends on municipal and state zoning laws. It also brings into question what the legal definition of a "family" is.

If you are ready to move from your neighborhood because it seems as if all the surrounding homes are full of large groups of people, consider purchasing a home with an active homeowners’ association. Some home buyers are concerned about purchasing a property that lies within a neighborhood with a home association, but they help protect your investment.

What are the zoning requirements of a rental house?

The zoning requirements of a rental house depend on municipal and state codes. If the house is in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association, there may also be provisions against renting out a home.

If you would like to purchase a piece of investment property, and you’re concerned about finding one in the right neighborhood, talk with someone who knows the local laws.

What does it mean when you’re grandfathered in?

"Grandfathered in" means that an exception is made because something existed before the rules were made. This occurs when cities change zoning laws.

For example, if a city changes zoning laws to restrict sheds in small backyards, you may keep your shed if you had it before it enacted the law.

If you are unhappy with your area’s new zoning laws and would like to move to a less-restricted neighborhood, consider selling your home and buy a home with more surrounding acreage.

Can you limit the number of people living in your rental house?

Landlords can limit the number of people living in their rental houses, but they have to be careful doing so. Consider consulting with an attorney before you make a policy on how many people is appropriate for your home. You need to abide by fair housing regulations, and if you limit the number of people in your home, it would seem as if you were discriminating against people with children.

Are you looking for a rental house to buy? Contact our experts in investment properties who work with Clever Real Estate. You could even qualify for some of the purchase price back with Clever Cash Back if we help you find the perfect rental unit to purchase.

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