UCLA hikes up tuition – will that push up occupancy limits?

Author: Scott Goodman • Scenic West Property Management

Despite student protests at UCLA and elsewhere, the University of California Board of Regents approved a 32% tuition fee increase that will push UC tuition above $10,000 per year for the first time, and this doesn’t even include housing and books. 

Since many of the properties we manage are located in Westwood and West Los Angeles, close to UCLA, we rent to a fair amount of students. A typical strategy among students has been for 3 or 4 tenants to share a 2 bedroom apartment, for obvious savings in living expenses. We are predicting that now, because of costlier tuition fees, students will have to get even cozier in their living arrangements, and we may start seeing 5 or 6 tenants applying for a 2 bedroom unit. As landlords, we know that  more people living in a unit equals more wear-and-tear and possibly more noise, but that’s not enough reason to refuse renting to a larger party. So what are the occupancy restrictions?

The Guidelines

HUD, the federal agency which regulates the Federal Fair Housing Act, has never adopted occupancy standards. Rather, it allows for state and local entities to adopt reasonable restrictions on occupancy as long as they apply to all occupants. According to the Los Angeles Fair Housing Department, the rule of thumb is 2 people per bedroom plus one person. This standard, based on the “Keating Memo“, would allow the landlord to restrict occupancy to 3 people in a 1 bedroom unit, 5 people in a 2 bedroom, and so forth. Allowing more tenants to occupy a unit is at the landlord’s discretion. However, according to the Los Angeles Building and Safety Department, the maximum allowable occupancy is 1 person per 200 square feet of habitable area (and that includes bathrooms and kitchens).

The Bottom Line

As a result of a lack of concrete guidelines, owners and managers may develop and implement reasonable occupancy requirements based on factors such as the number and size of sleeping areas or bedrooms and the overall size of the unit.  Consistency is everything. If you decide to adopt an occupancy standard, make sure that it applies to all occupants, and it does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or handicap. 

The information provided herein is not meant as legal advice. Please consult with your legal professional to obtain such advice.

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