Patricia M, Home Owner in Flushing, NY

Can a landlord limit the # of people living in an apartment?

Asked by Patricia M, Flushing, NY Wed May 9, 2012

I'm about to list my 1BR co-op for rent again in Kew Garden Hills. Can I limit the number of people allowed in an apartment, or does that violate the Fair Housing law? (I can't remember the exact name of the law). I see several listings saying no more than two people but am not sure how legal that is with children potentially involved. Yet, I wouldn't want a family with a lot of kids living in my 1BR apartment- more wear and tear and a potential safety hazard!

1. Could I say no more than two unmarried adults?
2. CAN you limit the # of total persons/family size in the apartment?
3. What is the best way to word this?

Help the community by answering this question:


A landlord can only limit based on the local munipality's guidline of maximum occupancy per square footage. A Landlord can not limit based on any other criteria as that is discriminatory. Check with your local municipality to see what limitations they have and that is all you can enforce. Due to fair housing you do not have a right to chosse based on the familial status of the occupants(e.g. children) only the number based on local laws. The best way to word this would be "no more than x number of occupants as per local ordinance"

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 9, 2012
this is wrong and unfunded in N J
Flag Wed Apr 8, 2015
I think personally this is all crap!! People are just to hurting and strapped for cash in today's economy and just cannot afford the ridiculous rents and stipulations of today's rent market! People are doing what they have to to survive to share expenses and living arrangements just to get by! Then to be told no by prospective landlords is ludicrist! Families are doubling up/tripling up etc.. just to keep a roof over their heads! You landlords need to get in touch with reality!! Open your eyes to the real world!! We are a family of 3 ..Married Mother, Father with a 15 yr old son looking at trying to get a 1 bdrm apt. because that's all we can afford that's even close to our income level! (Even possibly an efficiency because that's all we can afford!!) So now your going to tell us NO and we end up sleeping in the car instead!! Ya good plan there!! Landlords need to realize that this is what people HAVE TO DO!! Cut people same slack as long as there not having a "crowd" living in an apt. Whats wrong with making a 1 bdrm A bedroom for our son and then the "living room" a second bedroom for us instead? Then maybe if there is a kitchen that's big enough it could technically be a Combo living room/kitchen type deal?! If there's a closed in porch, maybe THAT could be used as a living room if its insulated properly?! You see..There's lots of leeway for options here..! How about a 1 bdrm with a dining room..used as a 2 bedroom option instead?! ya gotta do what ya gotta do to survive!!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 29, 2014
I feel really secure in my building when my neighbor puts additional people in her apartment because she cannot afford the rent. They have keys and walk the halls. This is great for the security of my building. I love living with strangers. It is so much safer living with the unknown.
Flag Thu May 7, 2015
I have to back Shirley's statement. I'm a apartment manager and this is what we deal with every day. Remember if they are not on the lease they have not signed the rules of the property. A owner can spend months with court, lawyers and thousands of dollar. That's not even counting the cost of repairs, 3 times the water. Then when we look at criminal background that a whole new ball game. A lot bring drugs into the community, many are felons or could have sex offenses. Once they crash on your floor they have to be evicted if they don't leave on there own.
Flag Wed Apr 8, 2015
These rules are not out there to harm you, but rather to protect against multiple people moving into a property and destroying it. We have just evicted a family that moved into a two bedroom unit and eventually had 15+ people living there. The wear and tear on the home was astronomical. I am sorry that you have been caught in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare.
Flag Wed Dec 10, 2014
The basic answer is that you can limit the number of occupants in an apartment. When you start talking about sex, age,religioni or marital status then you might have potential discrimination problems. Check with your attorney to be sure.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 9, 2012
If the co-op allows renting, why not simply consider listing with an agent; generally the tenant pays commission; for helpful fair housing information see link below; consult with an attorney for any necessary legal information....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 9, 2012
yes you can say the number of people on the lease to many people is prohibited by health department one bedroom maxima is 3 persons. an 5 on 2 bead rooms
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 8, 2015
I know this is like 3 years old but I am adding this especially for those reading this for if they are using this if they are wondering the same on limiting to so many people to a apt. Another thing besides local laws on how may people are allowed to live in a apt depending on irlts size and #,of bedrooms is if its on a septic system. My brother recently sold his house and had to have the septic tank system inspected. He found out that they are rated for only so much use in a certain amount of time. So you need to make sure you know what the septic system can handle for use on a regular daily basis. So this could help if you are looking at limiting the number of people as to many people living there can potentially overwhelm the Septic system maybe back up and make a mess and cost you money to fix
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 23, 2015
The 2+2+1 is the rule in most states. Two people per bedroom. So a family of 5 can occupy a 2 bedroom because of children. However a landlord does not have to rent to five adults it is his or her choice. A 1 bedroom can have three people. Also we take the square footage into consideration as well. if it's a 2 bedroom with a den over 1400 sq feet sure more people can be allowed into that apartment up to 7 if the landlord chooses.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
You need to be very careful. If you offer housing for rent, you have to comply with fair housing law. To be safe, here's my suggestion.
1. Call the building department
2. Call the health department
3. Call the Fire Marshall.

Ask them each what the maximum occupancy is per square footage. It may be a specific ordinance in your town; it may be the fire code or it may be both.

This situation happened to me, and as a agent, I wanted to check for the owner of the apartment. The building department did not care. The health department did not know. The Fire Marshal said 200 square feet per person, so a maximum number for the apartment (in my case) was 3, for a 600 square foot apartment. I do not believe children under a certain age count- but you need to check for yourself. Call the municipality.

You can't limit the size of a family when there is nothing to substantiate it, like a fire code. There are plenty of stories of families who sued their prospective landlord for being told the size of the family was too big. The landlord can't pick a number for his/her own comfort, nor the ages of the children or if the adult is single or married, etc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 3, 2013
Based on the lease and unit size the answer is yes. When you apply it asks for the number the occupants and name. If the unit is not big enough the landlord might not agree to have more occupancy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
Yes you can have up to 2 adults and 2 children max in general for 1 brm apt.
We usualy specify this in our lease form that only these people can occupy.
Call me with more questions if you need at (347)219-2037
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 13, 2012
Discrimination against children is against fair housing law. Drawing up a lease by an attorney stating the exact persons by name that will be residing at the apartment, and stipulating that no more than the persons listed will be allowed to reside at this residence will limit the amount of persons that could live in your rental.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 11, 2012
The best way to word it is, to describe the apartment and state the rental amount. You CAN NOT limit your tenants based on family size or marital status. You and the tenant must however adhere to any local zoning laws regarding occupancy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 9, 2012
This is a tricky one. First off you should check with the co-op rules. Sometimes they will not allow more than 3 or 4 people for a 1 bedroom. You MAY NOT say no to unmarried adults as that falls under the Human Rights can not discriminate based on marital status. Also local laws may apply.When you see an ad that says no more than 2 people it is usually for a studio. Also the laws are different if the unit is in say a 2 family house and the landlord occupies one of the units.
Obviously you can not have 6 people living in a 1 bedroom...but checlk local laws.
I am located in Forest Hills and do lots of work in Kew Garden Hills.
You may call me for a no obligation consultation.

Cary Zimbler
Exclusive Agents Realty Inc.
917-652-5150 rentals realtor fees are paid by the tenant so there would be no cost to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 9, 2012
Hi Cary, I'm having a similar issue. I'm actually trying to break my lease and do it legally. I got a new job and my commute is very stressful and long and as a result, I'm normally late. I do not want to jeoperdize my job. I have to leave. The landlord lives on the first floor and I live on the 2nd. She told me to post on Craiglist and work with broker, but she ONLY wants one person living upstairs in my apartment. It's a huge 2 bedroom... I've been trying for over a month, but have had no luck to find a single person to take the apartment. Mainly couples or with children. The landlord told me that she can do this because it's owner occupied... This is Clifton, NJ. Is that right? I"m really trying hard to get her someone reasonable, especially because i understand that she is an older lady and lives by herself. But it's really not fair to me. I've stopped living there essentially b/c I just crash with friends in NYC. I just go to get clothes and check mail... Please help...
Flag Sat Nov 30, 2013
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