Changes to occupancy restrictions

Proposed changes to the Housing Code seek to ensure equity for unrelated renters.

Purpose of occupancy restriction changes

The Minneapolis Housing Code currently limits occupancy (the number of people allowed to live together in one household) by restricting dwellings to 1 family that must be related by blood, marriage or domestic partnership. Restricting occupancy by family isn’t inclusive to the many households types that live together.

Limiting occupancy based on the relationship status makes it difficult for some Minneapolis residents to find housing and stay housed.

Proposed amendment

The proposed amendment redefines family to be:

an individual or two (2) or more persons intending upon residing and living together as a single household and housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit for thirty (30) days or more and not for short-term, tourist or transient uses.

See Code of Ordinances § 244.40. - Definitions.

This amendment will make our housing code more inclusive and simplify the regulations to prevent overcrowding by relying on the physical space regulations found in the housing code. The changes would provide more opportunities for individuals who are not related to share the same home.   

Background

Prior to 2019, Minneapolis was one of the rare cities in the Country that regulated occupancy in both the Zoning Code and the Housing Code - which put restrictive limits on occupancy relying on outdated definitions of household structures.

In 2019, the removal of occupancy regulations from the Zoning Code added flexibility to the residential dwelling unit occupancy regulations. 

This proposed update to the Housing Code complements this process by amending the definition of “family” in Section 244.40 -- which guides occupancy limits -- to include unrelated people, while still employing the physical space requirements in Chapter 244. These updates are intended to lowering housing barriers while supporting the following goals:

  • Ensuring equity for unrelated renters
  • Acknowledging the reality of Minneapolis housing stock: older properties with small bedrooms, few 3- and 4- bedroom properties available for low-income residents
  • Relying on safety considerations, not outdated definitions of household structure, to guide occupancy limits
  • Simplifying the enforcement process for both residents and inspectors

The amendment does not remove all restrictions on the number of people allowed in a dwelling unit. Occupancy will continue to be restricted by physical space requirements found the City’s housing code. 

See Code of Ordinances § 244.810. - Required space in dwelling units