A property is listed for rent with a property manager. The property is a two-bedroom townhome. A family submits an application noting there will be six (6) people living in the property. The landlord now expresses concern about the number of people who would be living in the property and believes he can deny the application because only two (2) people can occupy a bedroom per state law.
Can the landlord deny an application based upon the number of people occupying a two-bedroom property?
The landlord must be aware of fair housing rules such as A.R.S. § 33-1317(A), which states:
A person who knowingly refuses to rent to any other person a place to be used for a dwelling for the reason that the other person has a child or children, or who advertises in connection with the rental a restriction against children, either by the display of a sign, placard or written or printed notice, or by publication thereof in a newspaper of general circulation, is guilty of a petty offense.
However, the landlord may be able to refuse the application based upon reasonable occupancy standards, under A.R.S. § 33-1317(F), which states:
Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person from refusing to rent a dwelling by reason of reasonable occupancy standards established by the owner or the owner’s agent which apply to persons of all ages, and which have been adopted and published before the event in issue. An occupancy limitation of two persons per bedroom residing in a dwelling unit shall be presumed reasonable for this state and all political subdivisions of this state. (emphasis added)
Based on the above fact pattern, it appears as though the landlord had not established an occupancy standard prior to the family’s application. In other words, the facts suggest the landlord is currently deciding an occupancy limit. Accordingly, the landlord would not be able to deny the family’s application based on Arizona’s reasonable occupancy standard statute. However, if the landlord had previously adopted and published an occupancy standard prior to the application, the landlord could deny the family’s application.