By Josh Kattenberg
Sioux Falls has adopted a “maximum number of occupants ordinance” for rental property. The ordinance says that no more than three unrelated people can inhabit a rental property. “Unrelated people” mean’s people who are more distantly related than cousins. For example, according to the ordinance, a four college roommates could not live in the same property. However, a family consisting of a grandpa, father, mother, uncle, two children, and a cousin could live in the same rental property. Another allowable combination is to have a family of four people together with two completely unrelated people. While the total number of people is six, the family of four only counts as “one” unrelated person. (Click here for City Flyer)
Some landlords think, “This ordinance is unenforced, so why bother following it?” We can tell you from experience that the city of Sioux Falls does follow up on this ordinance. Enforcement usually arises from a neighbor’s complaint about to much coming and going at the property. Consider renting a four bedroom house to four or five college students. Each of those students has a car, a girlfriend or boyfriend, and about six other friends or classmates who will come over to study, visit, or hangout. What starts out as four to five cars, can quickly turn into ten to fifteen cars and a lot of activity. This does not mean that there is a party going on, loud music, or any other sort of disruption. It does mean that a residential street is packed with vehicles. At this point the landlord will get a call from the city wondering how many unrelated people are on the lease. If the landlord has signed the lease with more than three unrelated people, he or she is in a pickle. The lease violates the city ordinance. However, the lease itself is a legally binding contract giving the right of occupancy to the tenants. If you find yourself in this situation, contact an attorney. Better yet, keep the law, and don’t get yourself in this situation in the first place.
Practical Guidelines for Occupancy Rules
Even after following the Sioux Falls ordinance of no more than three unrelated people in one property, property managers and landlords need to consider other practical occupancy considerations. For example, how many people should a landlord allow to live in the property? A good rule of thumb is no more than two people per bedroom plus one more. The “plus one more” can sleep in the living room on the sofa.
Also consider the ages and genders of the occupants. While you want to be careful not to discriminate based on age and gender, you should consider adopting a policy that allows families to split up boys and girls in separate bedrooms above a certain age. For example, a family of five with a mom, dad, two girls and a boy all above the age of twelve, should rent at minimum a three bedroom home, even though they would fit in a two bedroom home.