How Many People Can Live in a 3-Bedroom Apartment? (Answered)

During your apartment search it’s important to learn about occupancy limits. You need to know the rules when it comes to how many people will be living there vs how many bedrooms there are. If you are specifically looking at larger apartments with 3 bedrooms, the next question you may have is:

How many people can live in a 3-bedroom apartment?

The most common answer to that is 6 or 7 people. There are, of course, exceptions to this that we will discuss below, but most typically you can expect that a landlord will limit occupancy of a three-bedroom apartment to 6 or 7 people.

When we lived in our first apartment, a 3-bedroom apartment, we didn’t need the extra space but it was nice to have. Unfortunately the unit below ours eventually got rented out to 6 young guys. What was unfortunate about it was that they loved to stay up all night and be loud. We did our research and learned about the 2 adults per bedroom general rule. Technically it was OK for our landlord to rent to all 6 of them, and all we could do was wait until our lease was up.

The Federal Standard on Occupancy Limits on a 3-Bedroom Apartment

In the sixties, the US government passed the Federal Fair Housing Act. This act is well known for protecting US citizens from housing discrimination against protected classes of race, gender, religion, national origin, familial status and disability. The act also sets up occupancy limits for housing. It recommends a maximum of two people per bedroom unless it’s justifiable to have a higher or lower number.

It states that the recommended number is two per bedroom. It’s not an end-all be-all limit. It’s a suggestion. A landlord can allow more occupants if the number is justifiable. As an example, a justifiable increase would be for a baby, who takes up less space than an adult. We get into this more in a section below.

How Many People Can Live in a 3-Bedroom Apartment?

Occupancy Limits at the State Level for 3-Bedroom Apartments

Now that you understand that the federal government doesn’t regulate occupancy limits and merely suggests them, let’s look at it at the state level. As with many regulations, each state can have its own laws and they certainly do. The only caveat is that they cannot go against the federal standard. The most typical regulation in states allows for two people per bedroom plus one. So, six or seven people total in a 3-bedroom apartment.

As always, when you are searching for your next apartment, make sure you understand your own state’s laws and how they affect you. If you want to downsize you may want to read about how many people can live in a 2-bedroom apartment? Knowing occupancy limits can help you make a more informed choice for your next apartment.

Why are There Occupancy Limits on 3-Bedroom Apartments?

The main reason that occupancy limits exist is for safety – for both the occupants and the property itself. An apartment that is overcrowded is more susceptible to fires, pest infestations, unsanitary conditions, accidents, and damage to the apartment.

The limits protect you from being crammed into areas much too small for you. It also allows the landlord to protect the property from unnecessary wear and tear.

When Can a Landlord Allow More than 7 People in a 3-Bedroom Apartment?

As we’ve briefly touched on already, a landlord can often allow more than the federally recommended four people to live in an apartment. The most common reason landlords raise the limit is for families. One of the classes protected by the Fair Housing Act is familial status – or having kids.

This means that a landlord cannot deny you an apartment because you have children. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow families to stay together whenever possible and as much as possible.

So, if you have a family of four adults and two young children and are wanting to rent a 3-bedroom unit, it may be reasonable for the landlord to accommodate this request. Children are much smaller than adults and generally take up less space. If the bedrooms are tiny, however, it may be less reasonable.

The specific apartment and its size do have some bearing on this question. So also does the age of the child. Teenagers, for example, are much bigger and take up more space than infants.

There is a common misconception that children under two years old don’t count towards occupancy limits. This is false. Every child, regardless of age, counts as a person occupying the space. Younger children are sometimes easier to accommodate when asking for a limit to be raised because of their smaller size.

Will My Rent Go Up if an Additional Occupant is Added to My 3-Bedroom Apartment?

If you decide to have more than is typically allowed in an apartment, the rent may be higher. It depends upon the landlord’s policies. The only time you for sure cannot be charged more is for children. This is another caveat of the Fair Housing Act and the protected familial status. Families cannot be denied due to children or charged extra for them.

If you decide to add a roommate or two, however, there is a chance the rental amount will change. Before having anyone new move in with you, always verify your lease for what is allowed and communicate with your landlord. Violating a lease puts you at risk of being evicted. If you really want to downsize you can read about how many people can live in a 1-bedroom apartment? The 2 people per bedroom rule is the generally accepted stance.

Can a Landlord Make the Limit of a 3 Bedroom Apartment Less than 6-7 People?

Lowering the occupancy limit below 6 or 7 is much more difficult than raising it. The Fair Housing Act states that all limits must be reasonable and within local jurisdictions. Justifying the need for less than four is not as easy to do.

The most common scenario where limits are under two per bedroom is in senior communities. These communities often limit occupants to ages 55+ and they don’t have to allow kids. This may make their occupancy limits vary and a limit under 4 people more reasonable.

How Many Guests Can I Have in a 3-Bedroom Apartment

Guests do not count towards the apartment’s occupancy limit They are not on the lease and they do not live in the apartment. They are also not screened by the landlord before they are allowed to come over.

Since they are not on the lease, they don’t have the same rights of a tenant. If they become disruptive or destructive a landlord can require they leave the property without having to utilize the eviction process.

It will say in your lease if you have a clause about overnight guests and how long they are allowed to stay at the apartment. Each lease is unique and they are often tailored to the specific laws of their state. Some leases will approach overnight guest limits consecutively.

These leases state that guests cannot stay more than 5-7 consecutive days in a row. Others approach it cumulatively and state that a guest cannot stay more than 14 or 15 days over a six-month period.

Regardless of the standard in your state, be sure you know the terms of your specific lease and what is allowed for you.

Knowing your Apartment’s Occupancy Limits

As you try to maximize space and minimize rents, make sure you pay attention to the occupancy limits as well. They exist to keep you safe and the property from being damaged.

Limit standards are set by the federal government and are in place to keep things fair and safe. And as always- remember to check your local region and state for any specific laws that relate to 3 bedroom occupancy rules.

About Chad & Rachel

Rachel and Chad have over 17 years of experience as both renters and landlords. They were tenants in 7 different apartments before becoming landlords of 9 apartments in Chicago. Renting apartments from landlords and being landlords themselves have helped them gain the knowledge that they want to share with renters. Whether you are at the beginning of your rental journey or in the middle of your lease and dealing with complex apartment issues, we are happy to help where we can. Read more about Rachel and Chad, or send a message using this contact form.

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