Family Values

I just had an inquiry, which I repeatedly get, regarding whether or not (and how) an association can limit the number of residents in a unit. My response, as usual, was qualified: it depends on where you are, and how much risk (of litigation) you can bear.

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based upon “familial status”; “familial status” is defined as:

“one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) being domiciled with–
(1) a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or
(2) the designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person.”

With this definition in mind, I think that it’s risky, at best, to try to restrict the number of blood-related individuals residing in a unit. I do think, however, that associations can safely adopt definitions from their municipalities, and restrict occupancy based on those criteria.

FYI, Salt Lake City’s ordinance restricts occupancy in it zoning by defining a family as follows:

“Family” means:
A. One or more persons related by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal guardianship, including foster children, living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit; or
B. A group of not more than three (3) persons not related by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal guardianship living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit; or
C. Two (2) unrelated persons and their children living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit.
The term “family” shall not be construed to mean a club, group home, transitional victim home, substance abuse home, transitional home, a lodge or a fraternity/sorority house.

And Summit County defines a family to include:

10-11-1.108 Family: A single individual, doing his/her own cooking and living upon the premises as a separate housekeeping unit, or a collective body of persons doing their own cooking and living together upon the premises as a separate housekeeping unit in a domestic relationship based upon birth, marriage or other domestic bond as distinguished from a group occupying a boarding house, lodging house, club, fraternity or hotel.

The ordinances of other Utah governmental entities can be found on the links at Utahcondolaw.com.

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