Landlords have the right to set rules for their tenants about how their properties can be used. However, the way these rules are set and applied are subject to very specific legal regulations, and failing to stick to the legal guidelines can lead to fines and lengthy courtroom disputes. One of the most important reasons many landlords rely on property management companies to help with their properties is that these companies are well versed on tenant-landlord laws and can draft leases and property rules that protect landlords without violating legal requirements. One area in which landlords must follow legal rules is in setting occupancy requirements for their properties. As you set maximum occupancy rules, here is what you need to know.
Familial status is a protected class.
Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on their inclusion in so-called protected classes. Familial status is one of these classes, which means that you cannot refuse to rent to families who have children or refuse to rent to people based on the number of family members that they have. The size of the unit and the age of the children can come into play when restricting properties based on the size of the family, so it’s best to get legal advice before you set a rule for your units regarding families.
Guidelines regarding maximum occupancy are complex.
HUD states that a maximum occupancy of two people per bedroom may be considered legal under the Fair Housing Act, but this is not a strict legal requirement. In some cases, the size of rooms may be sufficiently large that potential tenants can argue successfully that accommodating more than two people per room is reasonable. If you want to restrict occupancy, it’s helpful to prove that having more than a certain number of people would overburden the sewer system or other utilities.
Setting occupancy standards is complicated, but MRS Property Management can guide you through the process of setting up a lease that protects you and the legal rights of your tenants. Talk to one of our property managers today to see how we can help you. Call our property management company in Beverly, MA, at (978) 578-2793.