Rental Basics in North Beach>Question Details

Alison Hillm…, Other/Just Looking in San Francisco, CA

My friend hears A LOT of voices coming from the unit next door (it's a three bedroom unit). Is it illegal to have like eight people live in one unit?

Asked by Alison Hillman, San Francisco, CA Tue Mar 5, 2013

It's a running joke that he tries to count how many people live next door. What are the rules around this sort of thing?

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The code in California is it's 2 people per room + 1, so max for a studio is 2, a one bedroom 3, a two bedroom 5, a three bedroom 7 and so on. In San Francisco dining rooms have been bedrooms in many rentals for decades more recently owners are converting other areas to make more bedrooms. To keep it all 100% clean I do not count these so an original 2 bedroom with converted dining room can be perceived as a 3 bedroom but I still stick with 5 max.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 5, 2013
Thanks Bill, super helpful :)
Flag Tue Mar 5, 2013
Hello Alison,

You would have to check with an attorney or the City zoning ordinance on this. I think that you are allowed 2 persons per room. Then the question becomes what is a room? It might even be 2 per bedroom and another 1 or 2 in the dining room.

I have seen places where every room--the living and dining rooms--not the kitchen--was used as sleeping quarters.

With high rents in San Francisco, it is the only way people can afford to live!

Heck, I even saw an illegal unit recently with a family of 4 in one bedroom, another guy in a really small (probably not legal room) and another guy underneath the stairs in what should have been the laundry area!

That was the only way this family could afford their rent. Kind of sad in some ways.

As long as people aren't causing problems--as in an REO I sold once in Mission Terrace that had once had 9 separate leases and the electricity was a mess--and neighbors don't complain, there usually isn't a problem, (In this situation, the neighbors did complain as there wasn't any parking at this house and it was a small street so the neighbors couldn't park either!)

Hope this helps.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 5, 2013
It may be that the voices coming through the walls are not coming from your neighbors. In one Stephen King movie you could hear voices coming through the walls ….. and yet ….. there was no next door neighbor.


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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 5, 2013
Creeeppppyyy ;-)
Flag Wed Mar 6, 2013
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