Occupancy Limits

The State of Vermont does not have a uniform occupancy standard.  An occupancy standard is a law, ordinance or guideline that outlines how much space is required per person in a living unit. Some rules express the requirements in terms of square footage per person for specific activities such as sleeping, eating and living space.  Several communities (including Burlington and Rutland) in Vermont have enacted ordinances that place restrictions on how many people can live in a dwelling.  Other guidelines, such as HUD’s guideline (21 KB), recommends two persons per bedroom. There are exceptions to this standard; for instance, if a dwelling has two bedrooms and one bedroom is very large, it might be reasonable to allow three people to use the large bedroom.

Occasionally there are sewage and water limitations that are placed on specific properties. These types of limitations are usually found at mobile home/trailer parks. These restrictions must be enforced consistently and must be restrictions that are part of the property’s conditions for receiving the required permits.  Occupancy restrictions must be documented and cannot be arbitrarily used by the property owner to exclude or limit the number of children in a park or complex.
FAQ – I am a single mother with a young child. I went to rent a one-bedroom apartment and the owner said that I could not rent it because it is not right for a child and parent to share a bedroom. Is that okay?
No. You are the person who decides whether or not your child can sleep in the same room as you. Two persons per room is the standard. In addition, sometimes property owners don’t want to rent two-bedroom apartments to families with two children of the opposite sex. The property owner cannot lawfully use that as a reason to turn a family down.
FAQ - I rent properties to students. I have known students to cram six people into what I consider a four person unit. Do I have to allow this?
Check your local ordinances to see if there are any occupancy restrictions. If there are no such ordinances, then reasonableness is the standard. If it is a unit that only has two bedrooms and none of the bedrooms are abnormally large then it would probably be reasonable to restrict occupancy to four people. If, on the other hand,  the bedrooms are extremely large and could easily accommodate three persons, then your restriction may not be reasonable. Conversely, if a dwelling has two bedrooms and one of the bedrooms is very small, it might be reasonable to limit occupancy of the dwelling to three persons.