Are expectant parents safe from eviction?

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Question:

My husband and I live in a one-bedroom apartment, in a complex that has a "two-per-bedroom" occupancy rule. I'm expecting our first child, and I'm worried that we'll be evicted. Are there any exceptions for newborns?

Answer:

Your landlord's occupancy policy corresponds to the federal standard, but there's one wrinkle missing. Under federal law, landlords have to take individual circumstances into consideration, with respect to the physical aspects of the rental and the tenants themselves. For example, a "one bedroom" that also has a den that can be used as a sleeping area might need to be considered a "two bedroom" unit for occupancy purposes.

When you apply the flexibility requirement to the tenants -- you and your baby -- you can see that the three of you in a one-bedroom unit will probably not result in overcrowding. A newborn certainly doesn't take up much room, and it's common for parents to have their baby share their bedroom even when space isn't an issue.

Check your state's occupancy standard -- some, like California, are more liberal than the federal rule (California applies a "two-per-bedroom plus one more" rule), and others, like Texas, specifically address the addition of a newborn. If a state law doesn't help you, you can still try to work with your landlord. Most landlords will not toss new parents out for this reason alone, and many will realize that to do so may expose them to charges of discrimination against families.

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