I was looking at apartments in Boston, MA and found one that I liked. 2 bedrooms 1 bathroom. I was going to move with my partner and one other friend. My partner and I would share a room.

I was told by the person who owns the condo that having 3 people living in the place would not work with the condo association.

A quick search online brought up the Department of Housing and Urban Development's "two-people-per-bedroom" policy. I'm not sure if the condo association's rules and this policy conflict.

I don't think having 2 people per bedroom is unreasonable - especially in this circumstance. Is such a restriction lawful?

  • Please ask the moderators to migrate your question to law.SE since it has nothing to do with personal finance and money. You can contact the moderators by clicking on the Flag link below your question.
    – Dilip Sarwate
    Nov 7, 2021 at 16:09
  • 3
    "having 3 people living in the place would not work with the condo association." According to the owner, why would that not work? You might want to elaborate on the association's bylaws and particularities pertaining to that issue. Nov 7, 2021 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Presumably, the condominium association covenants prohibit three unrelated people from living in a unit. At face value, your proposed rental violates those standards.

Maybe Fair Housing laws say that condominium associations are allowed to do that, maybe Fair Housing laws don't prohibit such limitations. The main federal Fair Housing law protection that might apply is as follows (there also might be Boston or Massachusetts specific laws on point):

Discrimination in Housing Based Upon Familial Status

The Fair Housing Act, with some exceptions, prohibits discrimination in housing against families with children under 18. In addition to prohibiting an outright denial of housing to families with children, the Act also prevents housing providers from imposing any special requirements or conditions on tenants with custody of children.

For example, landlords may not locate families with children in any single portion of a complex, place an unreasonable restriction on the total number of persons who may reside in a dwelling, or limit their access to recreational services provided to other tenants. In most instances, the amended Fair Housing Act prohibits a housing provider from refusing to rent or sell to families with children. However, some facilities may be designated as Housing for Older Persons (55 years of age). This type of housing, which meets the standards set forth in the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995, may operate as "senior" housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published regulations and additional guidance detailing these statutory requirements.

The occupancy limitations are not clear cut under federal law, however, and arguably apply only in the case of families with push up against occupancy limits because they have many children:

What is considered a reasonable occupancy standard? The Fair Housing Act specifically allows housing providers to adhere to reasonable local, State, or Federal restrictions regarding the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling (42 U.S.C. 3607(b)(1)). Such restrictions may include property maintenance codes, zoning codes, minimum floor area requirements, or other similar provisions. These occupancy restrictions often take into account factors such as the number and size of sleeping areas or bedrooms, the overall size and/or configuration of the unit, and/or other physical limitations of the housing, such as sewer or septic capacity. If a housing provider allows fewer occupants than would be allowed under the applicable code, then it could be challenged as discrimination against families with children.

Protection of the right of unrelated people to live together doesn't really protect "familial status" in the sense of the Fair Housing Act.

But, the landlord, naturally, would prefer not to expend his limited resources in an uncertain test case suing his condo association to determine that its covenants are void because they violate Fair Housing laws, while running up fines and liens on his unit in the meantime, and facing an attorney fee award against him from the condo association if he loses. He would probably not be deemed to violate fair housing laws for doing so.

As a practical matter, you would be better served by looking elsewhere or dropping your proposed roommate.

You must log in to answer this question.