Texas landlords have the right to limit the number of people who can live in a rental apartment. The exact number depends on the number of bedrooms and the age of the occupants. The rules are not always black and white, however, since landlords must avoid imposing policies that discriminate against families with children.
In Texas, the maximum permitted occupancy is three adults per bedroom. Individual landlords can set lower standards.
Limits on the Number of Adult Occupants
By Texas law, the maximum number of adults permitted to occupy an apartment is three times the number of bedrooms. So, a two-bedroom apartment may house up to six adults over the age of 18. The only exception is a situation in which someone is seeking temporary sanctuary from domestic violence. In this scenario, the landlord can waive the maximum occupancy for up to one month. There are no statutory restrictions on the number of children living in the rental.
Landlord's Occupancy Standards
Landlords can set their own occupancy standards, and these may be more restrictive than state law. For example, a landlord might set a two-person per bedroom limit, and refuse to rent a one-bedroom apartment to a couple and a roommate. These rules are generally enforceable as long as the landlord does not illegally discriminate or violate fair housing laws.
Fair Housing Regulations
A landlord may run afoul of federal fair housing laws if her occupancy standard prohibits families with children from occupying the apartment. For example, a landlord cannot refuse to rent a two-bedroom apartment to a couple with two children and a baby, since infants do not count as occupants under the Fair Housing Act. The same landlord may or may not be able to reject a couple with three older children – it depends on whether the bedroom is large enough to accommodate the extra occupants. For large apartments, a broad curfew on the number of occupants could be seen as unreasonable.
Limits on Visitors
Texas landlords cannot restrict the number of visitors a tenant has unless the visitor disturbs other residents or violates some other provision of the lease. However, a visitor who stays at the apartment for several nights in a row, or who receives mail at the apartment, may be classified as an unauthorized occupant. The landlord may have the right to start eviction proceedings based on the lease violation.
Occupancy Rate Applies to Bedrooms
The Texas "three adults per bedroom" occupancy restriction applies to rooms intended as sleeping quarters and not any other rooms in the apartment. Neither the landlord nor the tenant can designate a second living area or spacious study as a bedroom in order to circumvent the occupancy rules.