Recently the policy restricting occupancy to two-persons per bedroom has come into question. Arguing that the occupancy standards are discriminatory because they are based on familial status, will this be the leading trend in fair housing litigation?
But what about the “Keating Memo”?
The Keating Memo, issued in December 1998 by HUD, established the two-persons per bedroom maximum occupancy as the standard policy. According to the memo, the two-persons per bedroom rule is acceptable with some limited exceptions in light of other relevant factors. One example of an exception would be that two adult parents with an infant child should be allowed to rent a large one-bedroom.
However, this policy has been questioned in a Fair Housing complaint filed last week that it is unreasonable in that it both excludes and limits the number of families with children who can live at the owner’s properties, thus discriminating against families with children. Rather than using the persons per bedroom standard, some critics suggest that owners should use local building or zoning codes to develop a policy on the basis of square footage and accounts for the entire livable space in the unit. Another option in the complaint is that owners rely on the International Property Maintenance Code, allowing up to eight people in a two-bedroom unit measuring at 1,100 square feet.
In light of this new development, be sure to review your occupancy standard policies with an attorney to ensure they are in compliance with fair housing laws. Additionally, you should review your insurance documents and identify which types of litigation claims are covered and any relevant limitations or restrictions.
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