I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV. I don't even play one on
the net. I live near Champaign-Urbana, IL, a college town, so all of
this is based on my experiences as a tenant and later a landlord in that
I've seen two off-the-record justifications for these types of laws.
First, they want to make life difficult for "party animal" students, and
lump quiet responsible law-abiding students in with those, umm, less so
students. Second, they want to make life difficult for those of lower
economic background who try to pack 15 people into a 2-bedroom
apartment. They may also be trying to make it difficult to rent to any
students in that area.
This varies by jurisdiction, but usually these laws are actually zoning
regulations. In my area, the zoning regulations for the "3-family" zone
say no more than 3 unrelated people per structure or some such.
"Multi-family" zones don't have this restriction, but those zones cause
large apartment complexes to be built in student areas. Check the
current zoning maps, because they do get changed from time to time and
you might not be as restricted as you think.
You can't knowingly rent to 4 or more unrelated individuals in a
"3-family" zone. To the landlord, that means you can't have 4 names on
the lease unless 2 of them are willing to claim they're actually related
(part of the same family). Of course, since you're a good landlord and
don't violate your tenants privacy, you might not notice if a 4th person
visited so much that they helped out with the rent and had their own
room and stuff... ;-)
Of course, this isn't legal advice. If you want legal advice, contact a
tenant/landlord relations lawyer in your area. If there's an
organization that helps tenants fight bad landlords in your area, you
can drop by and explain your problem and they can either give you a more
informed opinion or they can refer you to a lawyer who can give you an
opinion. In my area, it's called the Tenant's Union, and they like to
see landlords ask how to be responsible because it means those landlords
will be responsive if someone comes to them with a complaint.
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