Occupancy Restrictions

Overcrowding within residential community associations may result in various problems and nuisance issues that adversely affect the quiet enjoyment of the association’s residents. Associations do have some authority to impose reasonable, non-discriminatory restrictions on the occupancy of condominium units:

“The authority of a condominium association necessarily includes the power to issue reasonable regulations governing an owner’s use of his unit in order to prevent activities which might prove annoying to the general residents…Therefore, a reasonable restriction upon the occupancy of individually owned units of a condominium project is not beyond the scope of authority of the owner’s association.” (Ritchey v. Villa Nueva Condo. Assn. (1978) 81 Cal.App.3d 688, 698-699.)

Discriminatory Age-Based Restrictions
Federal and state statutes prohibit residential restrictions that discriminate on basis of race, religion, natural original, sex, ancestry, familial status, or disability. With the exception of senior communities, occupancy restrictions may not be used to discriminate against families with children, nor may they be used to limit residency to persons over a certain age. (O’Connor v. Village Green Owners Assn. (1983) 33 Cal.3d 790.) However, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has stated that:

“…in appropriate circumstances, 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 dwelling unit. In this regard, it must be noted that, in connection with a complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of familial status, [HUD] will carefully examine any such nongovernmental restriction to determine whether it unreasonably operates to limit or exclude families with children.” (HUD – Occupancy Standards Statement of Policy.)

Occupancy Formulas
The California Health & Safety Code and the Federal Uniform Housing Code both contain provisions that restrict the number of persons residing within a unit by utilizing formulas based upon the square footage of bedroom sizes. Various cities and counties within California have issued their own occupancy standards/formulas. Additionally, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) uses what is known as the “two plus one” formula, which permits two (2) people to occupy each bedroom, with one (1) additional person in the living spaces (i.e., five (5) people may reside in a two bedroom unit). The DFEH formula has not gained formal legal status at either the state or federal level.


Related Topics

Related Statutes

Related Case Law

  • Ritchey v. Villa Nueva Condominium Association
    (1978) 81 Cal.App.3d 688

    [Use Restrictions; Nuisances] A HOA has the power to issue reasonable regulations governing an owner’s use of his unit in order to prevent activities which might prove annoying to the general residents.

  • O’Connor v. Village Green Owners Association
    (1983) 33 Cal.3d 790

    [Discrimination; CC&R Age Restrictions] A provision in a HOA’s CC&Rs prohibiting residency by persons under the age of 18 is discriminatory, invalid and unenforceable.