Can My Landlord Tell Me Who Can Live With Me

In most cases, your landlord cannot restrict who you live with. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if you live in a property that is age-restricted or if you have a roommate who violates the terms of your lease. If you’re not sure whether your landlord can tell you who can live with you, it’s best to check your lease or talk to your landlord directly. However, it’s important to remember that you have rights as a tenant, and your landlord cannot discriminate against you based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

Landlord’s Right to Set Occupancy Limits

Landlords have the right to set occupancy limits in their rental units. This is to ensure that the unit is not overcrowded and that all tenants have a safe and comfortable living environment. Occupancy limits are typically based on the size of the unit and the number of bedrooms it has. For example, a studio apartment may only be able to accommodate one person, while a three-bedroom apartment may be able to accommodate a family of four or more.

Factors that Affect Occupancy Limits

Several factors can affect occupancy limits. These factors include the following:

  • The size of the unit
  • The number of bedrooms
  • The number of bathrooms
  • The fire code
  • The local zoning laws

Table of Occupancy Limits in Different Countries:

CountryOccupancy Limit per Bedroom
United States2
United Kingdom2
New Zealand2

Consequences of Violating Occupancy Limits

If a landlord discovers that a tenant is violating the occupancy limit, they may take action to evict the tenant or charge additional rent. In some cases, the landlord may also be fined by the local authorities.

How to Avoid Violating Occupancy Limits

To avoid violating occupancy limits, tenants should do the following:

  • Read the lease carefully and understand the occupancy limits.
  • Do not exceed the occupancy limit set by the landlord.
  • Notify the landlord if there are any changes in the number of people living in the unit.

Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities: Can My Landlord Tell Me Who Can Live With Me?

Landlords have a legal obligation to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. This includes allowing tenants to live with a live-in aide or service animal, even if the landlord has a no-pets policy. In most cases, landlords cannot restrict who can live with a tenant as long as these individuals contribute to their support.

  • Definition of Disability: Under the Fair Housing Act, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a history of a disability, or being regarded as having a disability.
  • Reasonable Accommodations: Reasonable accommodations are changes to a housing policy, practice, or procedure that allow a disabled person to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
  • Examples of Reasonable Accommodations:
    • Permitting a live-in aide to reside with the tenant
    • Waiving a no-pets policy for a service animal
    • Installing grab bars in the bathroom
    • Providing a reserved parking space for a disabled tenant
  • Legal Basis: The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against tenants with disabilities. This includes refusing to rent to a disabled person, denying a disabled person the opportunity to make reasonable modifications to their unit, or charging a disabled person a higher rent than other tenants.
  • How to Request a Reasonable Accommodation:
    • Disabled tenants should submit a written request to their landlord for a reasonable accommodation. The request should include a description of the disability, the requested accommodation, and how the accommodation will help the tenant to use and enjoy the dwelling.
    • Landlords must respond to requests for reasonable accommodations within a reasonable amount of time. Landlords may deny a request for a reasonable accommodation only if it would cause an undue hardship.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities
Physical disabilityInstalling a rampAllows the tenant to enter and exit the dwelling
Hearing impairmentProviding a visual fire alarmAlerts the tenant to a fire
Cognitive disabilityAllowing a live-in aideAssists the tenant with activities of daily living

If a landlord refuses to make a reasonable accommodation for a disabled tenant, the tenant may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Discrimination Protections Against Protected Classes

Landlords may not discriminate against tenants based on certain protected characteristics or classes. These protected classes are defined by federal, state, and local laws and include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Familial status
  • Disability
  • It is illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to someone, charge a higher rent, or provide different terms or conditions of tenancy based on any of these protected characteristics.

    Fair Housing Act

    The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability.

    The Fair Housing Act also prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants who file a complaint of housing discrimination.

    State and Local Laws

    Many states and localities have their own fair housing laws that provide additional protections against discrimination in housing. These laws may prohibit discrimination based on additional characteristics, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and source of income.

    How to File a Complaint of Housing Discrimination

    If you believe that you have been discriminated against in housing, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). You can also file a complaint with your state or local fair housing agency.

    Protected ClassExamples of Discrimination
    RaceRefusing to rent to someone because of their race
    ColorCharging a higher rent to someone because of their skin color
    ReligionRefusing to rent to someone because of their religion
    National originProviding different terms or conditions of tenancy to someone because of their national origin
    SexRefusing to rent to someone because of their sex
    Gender identityEvicting someone because of their gender identity
    Sexual orientationHarassing a tenant because of their sexual orientation
    Familial statusRefusing to rent to a family with children
    DisabilityCharging a higher rent to someone with a disability

    Subletting and Guest Policies

    Your landlord cannot prohibit you from having guests, but they may have rules about how long guests can stay and whether or not they can live with you permanently. These rules are typically spelled out in your lease agreement.


    • Subletting is when you rent out a portion of your apartment or house to someone else.
    • In most cases, you need your landlord’s permission to sublet.
    • Your landlord may have specific rules about who you can sublet to and how much rent you can charge.
    • If you sublet without your landlord’s permission, you could be evicted.

    Guest Policies

    • Many landlords have guest policies that limit the number of guests you can have at your apartment or house at one time.
    • These policies are typically designed to prevent overcrowding and noise.
    • If you have a guest policy, you should make sure to follow it. If you don’t, you could be fined or evicted.
    Common Subletting and Guest Policy Rules
    Landlord’s permission requiredTo prevent overcrowding and noise
    Limits on the number of guestsTo prevent overcrowding and noise
    Limits on the length of time guests can stayTo prevent guests from becoming permanent residents
    Limits on the types of guestsTo prevent criminals or other undesirable people from living in the property
    Fines or eviction for violating the rulesTo enforce the rules

    Well folks, that’s all the legal mumbo-jumbo we have for you today on the topic of landlords and who you can shack up with. We hope you’ve found this information enlightening and helpful in navigating the sometimes tricky waters of landlord-tenant relationships. Remember, knowledge is power, and being informed about your rights and responsibilities is the best way to advocate for yourself and find a living situation that works for you. Thanks for hanging out with us today, and be sure to drop by again soon for more legal tidbits and life hacks. Until next time, keep calm and tenant on!