All You Need to Know About Rental Occupancy Limits and Standards

To make all leased properties safe and habitable, landlords must create and enforce certain policies and guidelines for their tenants. The scope can include regular maintenance and inspection, applicant screening, strict security monitoring, among others. And one of the most important things that a landlord can establish in their properties is rental occupancy standards.

Most landlords assume that processes are black or white and only require basic compliance instead of individual interpretation. However, mandated occupancy limits are not always clear to the relevant parties. 

In this article, we will discuss what rental occupancy standards and limitations are.

What Are Rental Occupancy Standards?

Rental occupancy standards or limits refer to how many people can live in a specific unit. Although there are basic standards set by the Department of Housing and the Fair Housing Act, landlords need to know that there are different or additional guidelines per state or jurisdiction. Occupancy limits are usually set according to the number of bedrooms per unit.

What Factors Affect Occupancy Limits?

1. The Size of the Bedroom

If a two-bedroom apartment has one significantly smaller room than the other, it would be unsuitable to say that two people can occupy each bedroom.

2. How Old the Children Are

Two adults with an infant can occupy a one-bedroom apartment. However, two parents with a teenager cannot do the same since it goes against the “two persons per bedroom” standard.

3. The Configuration and Square Footage of the Unit

Suppose the unit has extra room, such as a den or office area. In that case, it is possible to have additional occupants in addition to the “two persons per bedroom” standard.

A landlord needs to ensure that their property remains safe and habitable for their tenants. However, occupancy limits can make the situation tricky. Property owners need to be meticulous so that they can avoid Fair Housing claims of discrimination.

What Rental Occupancy Standards Do You Need to Know?

It’s challenging to find a clear-cut answer when you’re dealing with rental occupancy standards. As discussed before, there is some flexibility and complexity in the debate about “two persons per bedroom” because of the many variations in terms of square footage and age. 

Aside from checking applicable federal laws, landlords need to be knowledgeable about their state or city specifics. Some of the rules that can impact your rental business operations include:

  • The 1991 Keating Memo
  • IPMC or International Property Maintenance Code
  • Fair Housing Act 1988 Updates

Establishing Occupancy Standards in Your Property

It is important to remember that occupancy limits can vary depending on the unit or rental home. Landlords need to consider particular circumstances to figure out what works for them and their tenants. Simply complying with the hard and fast “two persons per bedroom” standard could be deemed discriminatory if the landlord does not set unique occupancy limits.

When you draft a rental occupancy policy, you need to remember that you need to be reasonable and consistent in everything you do. For example, if you want to have less than two people per bedroom, you need verifiable facts to back up your decision to do so. 

When you establish your occupancy standards, remember to consider the following:

  • The unit layout and square footage
  • Septic or sewer limitations
  • Occupancy guidelines that are unique to your state
  • Liveable and uninhabitable spaces
  • Age of minor occupants


Being a landlord can be a fulfilling experience, but it also has its drawbacks. You need to consider many things to keep your property in proper shape and ensure that your tenants are safe and satisfied. You also need to comply with state and federal laws. If property management seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry. A property management company in Jacksonville, FL, can help you out.

Quest Management Group is a full-service real estate company that has been helping Northeast Florida clients since 1985. As the best property management company in the region, we can help you handle the complex tasks of being a landlord. For inquiries about our services, contact us today.