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Zoning: Four Person Limit for Houses

Unrelated people who choose to live together may encounter problems if more than 4 people are in the group. If you rent a whole house, that is single family housing.

Zoning laws for "single family housing" define a single family as any number of people related by direct lineal descent (grandparent, parent, child, sibling only - no cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.), or by adoption, marriage, foster child/parent relationship or domestic partnership living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit. A single family may not live with more than three additional unrelated people. If none of you are related, one of you is the "family" and the total number of people you may have in your house is 4. If you have more than 4 unrelated tenants and rent a single family house, you could face serious problems.

EXCEPTIONS
If the house is legally zoned as a "rooming house" you may have more than 4 unrelated occupants. In Champaign, east of Neil Street near the U of I campus, the zoning allows rooming houses. However, in Urbana, near U of I campus, zoning is different and most houses are NOT legal rooming houses. Scroll down for a list of addresses for legal rooming houses in Urbana.

In 2007, the City of Urbana started routine inspection of rental houses for code violations. A zoning violation of more than 4 unrelated people can be discovered during these inspections. If an over-occupancy is discovered, the city will require all but 4 unrelated people to move out of the house. You can be fined and sued by the city for violating zoning laws if the extra people refuse to move out.

If some of your roommates are forced to move out, will your rent be reduced? Not if you let the landlord trick you into putting only four names on the lease. Then four of you will have to pay the rent that you thought all six of you would be sharing.

If you are even considering renting a house with more than 4 unrelated people, consult with the Tenant Union. Unfortunately, many landlords who wish to rent houses in violation of zoning laws will lie to prospective tenants -- or propose having two leases for one house -- or promote some alternative that creates the appearance that the tenants are the ones at fault. Don't be fooled!

Every person who will live in the house should sign the lease. The law does not say anything about how many names appear on the lease. The law deals only with how many people occupy the house.

THINK YOU WON'T BE CAUGHT? The landlord would not insist on putting only 4 names on the lease unless the landlord knew the risk of being caught were serious.

A new provision of Urbana law allows the city to fine landlords $500 a day (up to $1000 a day for repeat offenders) if the landlord offered to lease the place to more than 4 unrelated people. If a landlord offers to rent to more than 4 of you and tries to cover up evidence of the offer, don't cooperate. That will just set you up to take responsibility for the violation when you get caught and YOU could be fined.

Affidavit for leasing a house in Urbana

In Urbana, a landlord who rents a house must ask all tenants to sign a sworn statement that the tenants intend to have no more than 4 unrelated people living in the house. The landlord must also sign a sworn statement that he or she has leased the house to no more than 4 unrelated people. If your group has more than four people DO NOT sign a sworn statement that says only four people will live in the house. If you sign the affidavit saying you will have only four occupants and the city finds out that more than four unrelated people live in the house, you could face criminal charges for perjury. In March 2007, the city started routine inspection of rental houses for code violations. A zoning violation of more than 4 unrelated people could be discovered during these inspections.

A small number of houses in Urbana near the U of I campus are zoned as rooming houses that allow more than 4 unrelated people. The addresses below are the ONLY houses which may be legally occupied by more than 4 unrelated people. At some, if not all, Ameren IL (the power company) considers the utility bill to be a commercial account. That means you'll have to pay a large deposit (perhaps $600.00) to get service started and your monthly utility bill will be higher than if you had a residential account.

Address                                               Occupancy Limit

1004 S. Lincoln                                                   9
908 S. Lincoln                                                     8
802 S. Lincoln                                                     10
105 S. Lincoln                                                     9
711 W. Green                                                    5
705 W. Green                                                    10
505 W. Green                                                    14
806 W. Ohio                                                        14
805 W. Oregon                                                  10
804 W. Oregon                                                  14
803 W. Nevada                                                  8
801 W. Nevada                                                  15
711 W. Illinois                                                     6
608 W. Elm                                                          7
808 W. California                                              9
712 W. California                                              10
801 W. Iowa                                                       8
1301 S. Busey                                                     11
1103 S. Busey                                                     9
809 S. Busey                                                       9
807 S. Busey                                                       8
601 S. Busey                                                       5
804 W. Springfield                                            6 (1st and 2nd floors only, basement is currently a separate unit, this will likely change)
705 W. Springfield                                            9
707 W. Springfield                                            number changing, yet to be determined
906 S. Maple                                                      7

These two are rooming houses, however they would not be generally available as they are occupied on an ongoing basis by these organizations .  They are not part of the University Private Certified Housing program.
801 W. Oregon(Frat.)                                     14
702 W. Washington(Co-op)                      14

 

The law does NOT limit the number of RELATED people who can live together in a house. If you have children and the landlord limits the number of children who can live in the house, that practice is probably a VIOLATION OF FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL NON-DISCRIMINATION LAWS. The only exception would be if the total number of household members, including children, is larger than zoning laws allow for use of a space that size.

 

OCCUPANCY STANDARDS FOR NUMBER OF PEOPLE PER BEDROOM

If you use a family room, parlor or dining room as sleeping space for family members, you can count the square footage of those rooms to determine whether the house is large enough for your family. A kitchen, bathroom or hallway may not be used for sleeping purposes.

People sleeping in a room
Champaign - size of room
Urbana - size of room
1
70 square feet
70 square feet
2
100 square feet
80 square feet
3
150 square feet
120 square feet
4
200 square feet
160 square feet

If you think a landlord is discriminating against you because you have children or because of the number of children in your family, please contact Tenant Union immediately.

 

The Tenant Union does not provide legal services of any kind. All information provided in this publication is intended to help the average person prevent problems and deal with common concerns of renting. When legal help is needed, always consult with an attorney at law.