The Flame - April 2012

In this issue:

  • How Many People Can Live There?
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • April is Fair Housing Month
  • Electronic Recycling Event will be Saturday, May 12

How Many People Can Live There?

The city’s Occupancy Code is based on zoning. Ask questions to find out first what your zoning allows.

No doubt about it, Lawrence is a college town. As home to the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence is the home-away-from-home for thousands of people each year who attend one of the universities. Additionally, Lawrence has a large population of people who live together in rented dwelling units. A dwelling unit is typically considered a single-family home or individual units in a multiple-unit building, such as a duplex, tri-plex or multi-unit apartment complex, where a family resides. All of these dwelling units have occupancy limits which are in place to encourage nuisance-free and peaceful neighborhoods and to enhance the safety of tenants in rental properties.

The limit of unrelated occupants in a dwelling unit is based on the zoning district in which the property is located. Since there are many zoning districts in Lawrence, we encourage questions about specific locations and situations. Contact the Code Enforcement Division at (785) 832-7700 or enforcement with questions or a request clarification.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: The code is based on one family occupying a dwelling. What constitutes a family?

A: Any one of these examples is considered a family:

  • A person living in a dwelling unit alone;
  • Two or more people related by blood, marriage or legal adoption living in a dwelling unit;
  • In a Single-Dwelling Residential District:
  • a group of three people, not related by blood, marriage or legal adoption, living in a dwelling unit;
  • or In a zoning district other than Single- Dwelling Residential District: a group of four people, not related by blood, marriage or legal adoption, living in a non-residential zoned dwelling unit.

The city regulates occupancy limits for dormitories, congregate living facilities, hotels, motels, fraternities and sororities separate from the occupancy limits listed.

Q: What is the city’s definition of a dwelling?

A: For the purposes of occupancy, the city defines a ‘dwelling unit’ as “one room, or a suite of two or more rooms, designed for or used by one family for living and sleeping purposes and having only one kitchen or kitchenette.”

Q: How do I know if Ilive in a Single- Dwelling Residential District or another zoning district?

A: Call the Planning Office at (785) 832- 3150 and visit with the Planner of the Day or visit the city’s interactive map online at Type in an address and select ‘zoning’ under the tab labeled ‘More’.

Q: If I have 8 people in my family, is that considered above the occupancy limit?

A: No, because the occupancy limits are established for unrelated individuals. If you have two parents and six children, all related through blood, marriage or legal adoption, living in a dwelling unit, then the occupancy limits do not apply.

Q: Two brothers want to live together with two of their best friends for a total of four occupants in a dwelling unit located in a Single-Dwelling Residential District. Is that legal?

A: No. It exceeds the three-person limit in the Single-Dwelling Residential District since at least one of the occupants is not related to the others and the number exceeds three. The limitation on occupancy applies when even one occupant is not related to the other occupants. The occupancy limit does not apply when all occupants are related by blood, marriage or legal adoption.

Q: Can I allow someone not related to me to live with me in my dwelling unit?

A: It depends. Since not all occupants are related, the occupancy limits would need to be met. For example, if a family of four allows someone unrelated to live with them, then the occupancy limits are exceeded. If the family plus one unrelated does not exceed 3 in a Single-Dwelling Residential District, then the occupancy is not exceeded and the additional person can live at the dwelling unit. Additionally, some districts permit one additional occupant on the property in an accessory dwelling unit as long as the accessory dwelling unit complies with city code.

Q: I live in a large apartment complex and have three roommates. Is that legal?

A: Typically it is legal. Most apartment units are zoned in locations that are not Single-Dwelling Residential. As long as
the occupancy does not exceed four people living in the apartment unit, it is legal.

Q: Where can I report a suspected violation to the occupancy regulations?

A: You can report violations anonymously at or call (785) 832-7700.

April is Fair Housing Month

The City of Lawrence is committed to ensuring fair housing practices are upheld in Lawrence.

The City’s Human Relations Division is part of the City Attorney’s Office. It handles complaints and inquiries regarding fair housing.
Discrimination can occur when renting or purchasing an apartment or home. Fair practices must be upheld when buying, selling or negotiating the purchase of property.

Find out more online at

The Lawrence Human Relations Division is now located at Municipal Court, 1006 New Hampshire. Call us at (785) 832-3310 or email

Electronic Recycling Event will be Saturday, May 12

In an effort to encourage recycling of unused or obsolete electronic equipment, the City of Lawrence will host an electronic recycling event
on Saturday, May 12th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Free State High School north parking lot, 4700 Overland Drive.

Items accepted for recycling include televisions, video and audio equipment, computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, microwaves and other small appliances, cell phones and other hand held devices. There is a $10 recycling fee per computer monitor and a $15 recycling fee per television. There is no recycling fee for other electronic equipment. Fees may be paid by cash or check. Electronic recycling at this event will be provided by Extreme Recycling.

Items not accepted at this event include large appliances and household hazardous waste such as fluorescent light bulbs, paint, pesticides, and compressed gas cylinders.

For further information, please contact the Waste Reduction and Recycling Division at (785) 832-3030 or visit