A New York landlord can only restrict two tenants per bedroomin some situations.In a recent case, a husband and wife filed a complaint with HUD that the management company refused to renew their lease after concluding that the family of five was too large for the 1,464 square foot, two-bedroom apartment that they had occupied for nearly a decade.
The company maintained an unwritten policy restricting occupancy to two persons per bedroom regardless of size. The family was forced to vacate their apartment under threat of eviction and had to move to another apartment that was farther away from their work and community, and which required their children to switch schools.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to rent or to impose different rental terms on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status, including actions that unreasonably limit rental occupancy. HUD guidance states that although an occupancy policy of two persons per bedroom is generally reasonable under the Act, such a policy might in some circumstances unfairly exclude families with children and violate the Act.
In examining whether such policies violate the law, HUD will consider factors such as: the size of the bedrooms and of the overall unit; the age of the children; the unit configuration; other physical limitations of the housing; state and local law; and other relevant factors. While HUD maintains that two persons per bedroom is often a reasonable standard, landlords must always consider the size of the rooms and overall apartment when setting occupancy standards.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company will pay $15,000 to the family; $3500 to all other families affected by the company’s occupancy policy; revise its occupancy policy, send notice of the new policy to all current residents, and include Equal Housing Opportunity language and logos in all advertising and promotional materials.
If you are a landlord or tenant with questions about discrimination and your legal rights and obligations regarding fair housing, or any other rental issues that may arise, call the New York Landlord & Tenant Attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC at 716-542-5444. Our attorneys will be happy to help you with your legal issues