Apartment Living BlogApartment Tips › How Many People Can Live in a One-Bedroom Apartment?

I know a family of 5 living in a one-bedroom apartment. Two adult parents, two kids (I’m guessing between 5-7), and one toddler no less than 3, share one room. Is this legal?

The answer to your question depends on a number of factors.

  • First is what is dictated as a maximum by city or county officials, such as fire inspectors or health departments in terms of safety and health issues.
  • The second is what occupancy standard is established by the landlord, and that standard must be fair housing compliant.

For decades, that standard has been guided by HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) and the minimum was, in most cases, deemed to be 2 people per bedroom, although many landlords, in order not to discriminate based on familial status, have chosen to go with

  • “2 people per bedroom + one other person” OR
  • “2 people per bedroom but not counting children under a certain age.”

However, even such more generous occupancy is facing challenges from fair housing advocates and there are lawsuits now pending, the outcome of which cannot be predicted. These lawsuits are being monitored by the apartment housing industry. So, there is no definitive answer to your question, although from a practical standpoint, if the family is willing to live in such close quarters (for economic reasons, or perhaps to have their children in a particular school district) and there are no landlord/tenant problems with the family, maybe there is no issue at all.

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About :

Nadeen Green is the senior legal counsel for For Rent Media Solutions. She has been an attorney and has taught Fair Housing law to the multi-family housing industry for decades, presenting more than 1,150 programs to management companies and apartment associations nationwide, including the National Apartment Association, IREM and AIM. Her reader-friendly articles and guest blogs appear regularly in publications and on websites, and she blogs as Fair Housing Lady at http://fairhousing.forrent.com/. Nadeen lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Ned.



  1. chris morgan says:

    I have a similar question? My family and I just moved into a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco last month, 3 young kids in a large bedroom and my wife and I in the living room set up like a studio.  Today my neighbor who does not like children told me she called the city code enforcement because she thinks we have too many people. All of our family is named on the lease, nothing was a secret.  My question is can I be evicted by the city even if my landlord is ok with it based on city code, and if so, how can I tell what the code is?


    • My suggestion would be to research what the law says about housing occupancy so that you are fully aware of what is legal and what is not. If your landlord has already gave you approval than that is comforting news but always be aware of the law and be prepared for the worst. The worst thing that can happen is having to move out last minute without any preparation.

  2. Thanks Nadeen for such a nice blog. I didn’t any idea about that how many people can legally live in one bedroom. by reading your blog post the picture is clear now. even I am planning to shift with my family next month to one bedroom apartment, this blog will help me to get the best home.
  3. I really like how you answered but did not do so condescendingly. With the high price of rent now a days it is very hard for young families to live in a safe area in a decent neighborhood.
    • You are right, Nicole. Safety shouldn’t be dependent on the amount of rent. From your post, I can tell you want the best for your family and (no matter the neighborhood) you will extend that and more to the ones you love. We all must do our best to ensure safety in our communities. Let’s continue to focus on that! Thanks, Nicole!

  4. So as a single person who has moved in to a one bedroom apartment this is disturbing. I am now having to live below a noisy family of three, also in a one bedroom. They have a three year-old child who they let run around all hours of the night because the mother is a stay at home mom and has the luxury of sleeping in late and allowing him to stay up late to run. I cannot get out of my lease and they can always scream discrimination because they have a child. Unfortunately this is the world today. People have to suffer as others use laws for their selfish benefits. There is no reason why a family should be living in a one bedroom. There are rent subsidies etc. I don’t hate children but I don’t have to tolerate your child’s noise to let you save money.
    • Jane, my suggestion would be to move into another rental in under the same apartment community. That way you are not ending your lease. It’s an idea to consider. All the best Jane!

  5. Ron Blevins says:
    Hello, I’m living on the ground floor, but upstairs is a family of 4, two adults and 1 newborn and 1 child (5-7 yrs), the oldest child is autistic and causes a lot of ruckus, jumping up and down where the walls vibrate, is this something the landlord should have told us about?
    • Hi Ron, the landlord does not have to disclose information about the other tenants on the property if they do not feel the need to. If you are having issues with your rental, contact your property management company to seek further options.

  6. hello, I went to see and apartment today, One bedroom, I am a single mother with 2 children under the age of 4.. Apartment was on ground floor(so they can run as they please)

    Owner was ready to give me the apartment stating I can come in tomorrow to bring him move in fee and months rent. However, when I told him I has two children, he took the application out of my hand and said “sorry, no kids!” is this legal?

    • Hi Ashley, thanks for your question and I am certainly sorry you had to go through something like that. Landlords may not be privy to small children because of the possibility of destruction to the rental. But it is still very important to note that under The Fair Housing Act of 1968 it is illegal to refuse housing because of the potential tenant having small children. If you feel like you have been discriminated against it may be a good idea to look into legal action for this situation. Hope it all works out well for you!

  7. Hi, I just newly came here in the California, got married and so.  My husband is renting a 1 bedroom apartment.  Every other week my step son came over to stay with us.  He is occupying the bedroom while me and my husband in the living room.  I Read about the code about the 2 plus 1 tenant but still not sure of it.  My husband did not tell the landlord yet about my stay in the apartment.  He was thinking that if he will tell the landlord about me, he might increase our rent to 100 to 200 dollars which is much already since our current rent is 1350 for a 1 bedroom apartment.  My question is if the landlord finds out my stay here, is there any grounds that he will increase our rent, just like my husband imagining.  If there is, is this legal? I read the contract states that only person that was declared in the beginning will be allowed to stay.  Still, it makes me confuse.  Thanks
    • Hello June, Generally under landlord/tenant law the Landlord has a right to know who is living in an apartment and to have checked out that person (usually as to their credit or their criminal background, if any). The Landlord also has the right to have all adults in an apartment sign a lease (which is a contract). So your husband should tell the landlord that his wife is now occupying the apartment as well. Apartment rentals are usually not tied to “per person” so while I cannot promise you there will not be a rental increase, I would be surprised if that happened. You do not, however, have to mention that your stepson is a guest…renters are allowed to have overnight/weekend company as long as guests do not move in or stay for long periods of time.

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