Occupancy Policies: History & Best Practices

August 23, 2022
01:00 PM ET | 12:00 PM CT
90 Mins
Jo Becker

Occupancy Policies: History & Best Practices

Setting occupancy policies isn’t a simple business decision to make on a whim – they have the potential to create liability.

Perhaps you’ve heard that it's okay to limit occupancy to two persons per bedroom?  
That's not always true!
There are several things to watch out for when setting your own occupancy standards.
You should know that:
-Simplistic occupancy policies that limit the number of people to two per bedroom may violate fair housing laws.
-Restricting the number of children is patently illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other fair housing enforcement agencies review a number of factors to determine whether an occupancy standard is overly restrictive.  You should know what they are!

There is a growing body of case law across the country in which housing providers with simplistic occupancy policies are losing disparate impact cases.  These cases are brought on the basis of multiple protected classes including:

  • Familial status, and
  • Ethnicity (race, color, and / or national origin)

Under the FHA, housing providers can set reasonable occupancy standards that are based on business needs; however, the adverse effect of these standards on various protected classes requires that the housing provider justify the use of such standards.  Each situation presents a unique set of facts.

Join this webinar to learn what you need to know and do to avoid fair housing hot water!

Webinar Objectives

This session will provide the information and resource materials to:

  • Glean a comprehensive understanding of where occupancy policies came from historically.
  • Understand the legal pitfalls of overly restrictive policies
  • Appreciate what you can / can’t include in your own occupancy policies
  • Set your own, thoughtful policies based on HUD-recommended factors
Webinar Agenda
  • Historical original of occupancy policies in the US
  • Cultural perspectives on occupancy standards
  • Occupancy and fair housing
  • HUD guidance and recommendations
Webinar Highlights
  • Where does our history of occupancy policies come from?
  • What cultural lens influenced these rules?
  • How do overly restrictive policies run afoul of the federal Fair Housing Act?
  • Which protected classes are disproportionately impacted?
  • What does case law tell us?
  • What guidance has HUD offered on the subject?
  • What should you never include in your occupancy policy?
  • What factors should you consider in setting or re-evaluating your own rules?
Who Should Attend
  • Leasing and on-site managers
  • Portfolio managers
  • Compliance officers
  • Resident services coordinators (in affordable housing communities)
  • Community concierges (in high-end housing communities)
  • Independent landlords or small, “Mom and Pop” operators
  • Homeowners’ association and community managers
  • Residential sales agents
Jo Becker

Jo Becker

A Realtor®-turned-fair housing advocate, Jo Becker was a licensed housing provider for 8 years before working for a statewide fair housing nonprofit for 10 years. There she trained over 10,000 individuals to consistently rave reviews. Jo focuses on training property managers, maintenance and service technicians, and private landlords, as well as sales agents. Jo has also studied emergency preparedness and disaster response with a focus on animals since 2005, and often combines the two to bring urgent, timely information about animals to the housing industry. Today Jo’s career is an unexpected alchemy of public speaking and writing on topics that blend lifelong passions and...
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