If you are looking for an apartment and are wondering how many people can legally fit into a 2 bedroom, you are in the right place.
In this article, I am going to cover federal rules relating to this question and an overview of what state laws may look like on this point. Of course, different jurisdictions have different rules, so you will need to do a bit of digging to find out what your specific state or local government requires.
Let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
What Are Federal Government Standards?
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Act, the number of people who occupy a property should not exceed two people for each bedroom.
In the case of a 2 bedroom apartment, this would mean a maximum of four people.
These are recommendations only, but are based on safety considerations for the tenants as well as other people in the apartment building.
They’re also based on the need to protect the property from overcrowding and the problems which would arise from this.
With regard to the safety issue, the most important concern is fire safety.
With more people in an apartment than it is designed to accommodate, there’s a greater risk of fire, and evacuation in the case of emergencies can be harder in an overcrowded building.
Protecting the property is another reason for setting limits on the number of occupants.
The overall degradation will be accelerated and increased when there are more tenants than can comfortably live there.
Why Occupancy Limits May Vary
The most common occupancy limit is the one outlined above, that is a maximum of two people per bedroom.
However, states and cities can set their own limits, but with these government regulations as a minimum recommendation.
Most commonly, the two people per bedroom limit also allows for one more person, in most cases this would be a child.
Under the Fair Housing Act, families have the right to live together and a landlord cannot refuse tenants with children.
There are other reasons why occupancy limits can be different. One example is senior living apartments with an age requirement of 55 years or over.
In this instance, the tenant would not be allowed to have children living in the property. The two plus one rule can also be based on the square footage of the apartment.
So, a rental unit that has large bedrooms or other rooms that could be used as a bedroom can accommodate more than the recommended number of occupants.
This will depend on the state or city the property is located in.
Can A Landlord Impose A Limit On The Number Of Occupants?
A landlord can limit the number of occupants in a 2 bedroom apartment as long as they comply with federal, state and local laws on housing.
For example, if a group of 10 people wanted to move into a 2 bedroom apartment, the landlord would be well within their rights to refuse and insist that the legal maximum of 4 (or perhaps slightly higher, depending on the state) be honored.
In most cases, the limitation will be in the interests of the safety of the tenants and the protection of the property.
That being said, a landlord may not arbitrarily limit occupancy in a discriminatory or unlawful way, such as to prevent families from living in the dwelling. For example, it would likely be improper for a landlord to refuse the two people per bedroom occupancy limit as stated in the Fair Housing Act.
In contrast, it would not be improper for a landlord to ask one or more guests who are staying at the apartment beyond what is permitted under the lease or applicable law to leave.
As you can imagine, if the tenants broke the lease while housing these guests, the landlord may choose to evict them for violating the lease.
When Does A Guest Become A Tenant?
The standard for differentiating between a guest and a tenant varies depending on the lease terms and in some cases, state and local laws. If you want a state by state analysis of when a guest becomes a tenant, check out this article.
In many cases, the lease will lay out how long anyone not on the lease (guests) may stay without violating the terms of the lease.
If they stay longer than this, it will be a breach and you may face problems with your landlord.
Subject to your lease and any applicable laws, in general, a guest becomes a tenant when they are residing in the property for a continuous and extended period of time. A permanent or semi-permanent living arrangement is the key factor in evaluating the difference between a guest and a tenant.
Long term living arrangements like elderly parents moving in, a permanent nanny, or a friend or significant other who sleeps and resides at the property for months at a time are examples of tenants, while a babysitter who goes home at night or a friend who frequently comes by during the day but is not permanently living at the premises would be examples of a guest arrangement.
The difference between a guest and a tenant matters a great deal because the landlord has a right to know who is living in their property.
in most cases, tenants will be subject to background checks, credit checks and income checks, but if someone is a long term guest, then the landlord will have no information about them. They may be damaging the property and have little accountability. In this case, the landlord will be seeking compensation from the tenants on the lease.
From a health and safety perspective, this matters too. In the event of a fire, if there is someone in the apartment who is not on the lease, then they may not be accounted for in the event of an evacuation of the building.
As a general matter, it’s a good idea to inform your landlord of the presence long term guests or other occupants, so that you are not later evicted or need to pay damages because you housed them in violation of your lease.