Occupancy Standards

Minimum space and occupancy standards for rental housing exist in the Housing and Building Maintenance Code.  While the code provides the minimum required square footage for rooms in living spaces, it does not regulate how people occupy their homes.  A bedroom must not be less than 70 square feet of floor area with an additional 50 square feet for every occupant over two.  However, a large family may use areas of their rental unit not specifically designated for sleeping such as a living room.  Imposing an arbitrary limit on the number of people that can occupy a unit may be a violation of fair housing law by having a disparate impact on families with children. "Disparate impact" is when a neutral rule has a discriminatory, often unintentional effect on a protected class, like families with children.

If you have questions about how to comply with discrimination laws, contact the Seattle Office for Civil Rights  for technical assistance.