California has laws regarding bedrooms at the state level, and many counties and towns have additional local laws in place. Bedroom laws come into play for foster homes and rental properties as well as in the construction or remodeling of private residences. In most cases, the laws in California echo the guidelines issued by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
California defines a bedroom as a private room with a primary use as sleeping quarters. The room must not be the access to another room or have some other primary use. This definition excludes pass-through rooms, hallways and other communal rooms, even though a bed may be present.
The regulations governing bedrooms for children in California reflect a concern for their health and safety. Their well-being requires sufficient space per child, adequate warning of dangerous conditions and a degree of privacy.
As a general rule, California law permits two people per bedroom. HUD amended its two-per-bedroom policy to allow occupancy based on room size: a minimum of 70 square feet for one occupant and a minimum of 50 square feet per occupant for two or more occupants. Localities may pass additional requirements.
Rules require a smoke detector outside each bedroom. HUD suggests one inside each bedroom as an additional precaution. Property owners also should install a carbon monoxide detector in each bedroom.
Laws regarding bedrooms in foster homes have even more detailed requirements. Children can share a room with only one other child and both must be of the same gender unless under the age of 5. An infant or minor child can sleep in the same room as an adult only if the adult is the child’s parent. Each bedroom must have an emergency exit meeting fire code requirements and any window barriers must include a release mechanism. Additional laws address safety of furniture and cleanliness of linens.