How many people can I let live here?

Every two years when I renew my DC broker’s license I always come across little nuggets of information that I consider “good to know”. Others I shake my head and ask “how can that be?” Washington, DC’s regulations on housing capacity is one of the latter.

Housing Capacity

There are occupancy requirements recognized in D.C. According to D.C.M.R. § 14-402, each unit must have the minimum amount of floor area in order to comply with these requirements. In addition to unit size, there is also a minimum size for each bedroom or “sleeping area” as they like to call it. Here are the requirements:

Floor Area:

  1. At least 130 square feet of floor area in habitable rooms for the first occupant
  2. At least 90 square feet of additional floor area in habitable rooms for each additional occupant up to a total of 7 occupants
  3. At least 75 square feet of additional floor area in habitable rooms for each additional occupant if the unit is occupied by more than 7 people

Sleeping Area (specific to rooms used for sleeping):

  1. At least 70 square feet of habitable room area for not more than one occupant
  2. At least 50 square feet of habitable room area for each occupant when used by two or more occupants

So basically, if you are renting an apartment and three of you are sharing a bedroom, you need at least 220 square feet in the apartment to accommodate two people or 310 square feet for three people. For three of you to share a bedroom, you need at least 150 square feet in the room. If there are only two of you sharing a room, you only need a 100 square foot space in the room.

To put in in perspective for you, according to a November 2015 article on Road Warrior Voices, the average size of hotel rooms is about 330 square feet. A queen room at The Algonquin in Manhattan, a city famous for small hotel rooms, is 240 square feet. So your entire apartment must be about the same size of a small NYC hotel room for two people to share or a room at the Hampton Inn for three to share.

Your bedroom, or “sleeping area” as they like to define it, must be about the size of a walk-in closet to call it a ‘sleeping area’ for one or a 10 x 10 room for two people to call it a bedroom.

What is a sleeping area you ask? Well that is a curious term that we will cover in another blog post on another day.

Hopefully for those of you looking for a place to live in the District of Columbia this summer, this will help you decide how many of you can share an apartment and still fall within the requirements of the District’s regulations.

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