Chicago Space / Occupancy Requirements

Last updated: November 2, 2009 – 12:25 PM

In order to meet legal requirements,  a unit must have at a minimum, the following amount of square feet:

one person – 125 sq. feet
2 people – 250 sq. feet
3 people – 350 sq. feet
4 people – 450 sq. feet
5 people – 525 sq. feet
6 people – 600 sq. ft
7 people – 675 sq. ft
8 people – 750 sq. ft
9 people – 825 sq. ft
10 people – 900 sq. ft

All 48 Comments

  1. Can a landlord in a 900 sq fr unit rent to 9 individuals with individual leases? Or do all 9 people have to be on the same lease?

    1. I am not an attorney the building code states a unit must have at least 825 sq feet for nine individuals. My larger question would be how could the landlord divide that small of a unit into 9 sections. Each lease holder should be entitled to a part of the unit. I would ask an attorney.

  2. In a scenario of two related persons living in a one bedroom apartment in Chicago, is there any code restriction against using the dining room or a portion of the living room as sleeping space?

  3. I have 2 girl ages 14 & 3 1/2. We live in a 1 bedroom 850 sq ft apt. Is there a law about the legal requirements for how many bedrooms we need? If i want to move to a bigger apt am i allowed to come out of my lease for a larger space? Without reprecussions from the landlord.

    1. The space requirements were made more than 100 years ago. According to Chicago’s building code you have plenty of space for you and your 2 girls. one person – 125 sq. feet
      2 people – 250 sq. feet
      3 people – 350 sq. feet
      4 people – 450 sq. feet
      5 people – 525 sq. feet
      6 people – 600 sq. ft
      7 people – 675 sq. ft
      8 people – 750 sq. ft
      9 people – 825 sq. ft
      10 people – 900 sq. ft

      You will need to negotiate with the landlord to get out of the lease.

  4. Hello,
    My daughter and friend are renting an apartment in Wicker Park, it was advertised as a two bedroom, but the smallest room does not have a window, can that legally be considered a bedroom, I am not sure of the actual size of this room, I don’t believe it is very close to any room with a window, my concern is for their safety. I thank you for your response.

    1. The building code as far as I know does not require a bedroom to have a window. In order to be considered a bedroom for an individual, the area of the room must be at least 70 sq. ft.

  5. I own a townhome in Chicago. The complex consists of 24 units with 2 bedrooms and one and a half baths. Total square footage is 850. All of the owners are at least 50 years old. Two of the owners have moved and are currently renting. One of the owners is dilligent in selecting renters who are in the same age group and there has been no problems. The other owner has for the past 10 years rented to younger people who consistently cause problems by fighting, having loud parties and playing music extremely loud. The current tenant is a single mother with two children, 6 and 8. Within days of moving in her brother and a neice moved in. An aunt and an adult male cousin and another child about 7 have since moved in. The unit shares a common wall with mine and noise is unbearable. The children are running at 2:00 in the morning. There is constant slamming of doors throughout the night and early morning hours because if parties and two weeks ago the two adult males had a fight that was so disruptive that several of the neighbors called the police who removed the brother. The owner of the unit is basically ignoring the complaints and making excuses for the behavior. What can I do to be able to have peace in my home.

    1. As to your question about how many people can live in an apartment here is a link to the occupancy laws. Under Chicago law 9 people could live in an 850 sq ft apartment. It may be difficult to prove who is living there.

      Without the owner’s support it may be difficult for you to do much. Are you a part of an association? It may b possible to ban people from the property if they violate the law such as the brother. You should contact an attorney about that. Certainly calling the police is an option when the noise violates the law. Finally have you spoken with the family? Do they know the problems they are causing? In some cases like this mediation can work. The Center for Conflict Resolution can mediate situations like this (312-922-6464),

  6. Hi,
    How many people can live in a one bedroom apartment chicago usa?(Because we have a kid and thought of going to a single bedroom house)

    please help me.

  7. My husband and I just filled out an application to sublease a spacious convertible studio in Council Park. The rental company told us that city ordinances prevented them from being able to rent the unit to more than one person, because it is technically considered a studio. Is this accurate?

    1. I cannot say for sure without knowing the dimensions of the unit, though it is highly unlikely that that two people residing in the studio would violate city ordinances on minimum space requirements. Is there any discrimination happening?

  8. My uncle has a 5bedroom house (not his yet but he’s almost done paying it) in DuPage county. The people who live there now are: my uncle, aunt, 4 cousins (my uncle n aunts children), and 2 other people (boyfriends of 2 of my cousins). I just moved here from California n my uncle told me I can stay for a little bit while I looked for an apt because he said that the neighbors filed a complain that too many people live in my uncles house and if it wasn’t for that, he could let me stay longer because he didn’t know how many people can legally live in his house. He said the the city came and told him he had too many cars in his parking lot (there are 4 cars and non are broke down and they use them everyday to work) thus indicating that there where too many people living in the house. I now bought a car so now its a total of five cars. I also wanted to ask how many cars can my uncle have in his driveway? (When all 5 cars are in the driveway, non block the public sidewalk)

    1. I do not know what the zoning is for your particular area therefore I cannot answer your question. What City? Is there any discrimination happening?

      1. Well, I dont know if there are any discrimination by my uncles neighbor. Although, my uncle told me that when the neighbor filed the complain, he/she also called animal cops becuase supposedly my uncles lab was locked up in a cage on the back yard under the burning Sun and because the dog never stopped barking. The neighbor got upset by this because she/he works in the night. But not only did they file a complain towards my uncle but also to the their other neighbors too. It’s in Villa park.
        I’ve done research but i couldn’t don’t know what its like in this area but heres what I found Plus what’s at the top of this page:
        *no more than 2people per room (plus a child under 2yr old)
        *# of bathrooms determine how many people live in a house hold
        *if renting, landlord says how many people are allowed (can’t be more than the legal # of persons but it can be less or exactly) [this was useless because mg uncle is not renting)
        *a person can have as many cars as he/she can fit in his/her drive way and/or garage as long as it doesn’t obstruct the public sidewalk were pedestrians walk

        Please help, for I can either inform my uncle or start looking for a apt or room asap.

  9. Hi, I rented a 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment (700sq. feet, In a Condominium association), I want my family come to visit us to my boyfriend and me (my mother and 2 siblings) for 1 month. I realized in the lease rules there is a occupancy clause that says that only permit staying people that is not included in the lease for no more than 7 consecutive days. Is there anything that I can do to get my family to stay in my apartment without any problem and without violating any law?

  10. I live ina 1 bedroom…about 870 square foot unit with 2 children and 1 large dog. I have recently signed a new 1 year lease and discovered that there is another child on the way. I have requested a 2 bedroom unit via email from my building management with no response. They were great with keeping in touch when the lease needed to be signed. What can I do? ForestPark Il is the village.

    1. I need more information to answer this question. If this is not a subsidized unit, the landlord may be under no obligation to provide you with a 2 bedroom unit. Even if it is subsidized the landlord may not be under any obligation to increase your unit size.

  11. The tenancy square footage is confusing…the chart says “per person” so if that is correct, one person can live in 125 square feet, but 2 people have to have at least 500?

    1. You may want to get the opinion of an attorney. The way that I read the law is that for one person there must be at least 125 in the unit. For 2 people there must be at 250 square feet.

  12. What is the law for having more than 10 people in a building. I was staying in a 2 flat apartment with a basement and there were about 16 people living there. I eventually moved out of the apartment due to rats and cleanliness, but now the landlord is evicting the tenants for backed rent. And I am afraid that I am going to be held responsible for some of the rent.

  13. Here is my problem… There is a family of 7 (2 adults & 5 children) wanting to rent my 2 bedroom apartment. I am care giver for my mom that has Alzheimer’s and feel that having 5 children living above our heads would create a rather stressful situation.
    Do landlords have a right to not rent to some one they feel is not ideal for the current living situation in their building?

    1. There are many reasons that a landlord can have for not renting to a person or a family. When you say that you feel that they are not ideal for the current living situation it raises concerns. It seems that you are saying or assuming that a family with children will be too noisy. Two college students might make too much noise or an older person who is hard of hearing may make too much noise. We have had many complaints from tenants who live below noisy tenants or sometimes owners. A better way to determine if someone will be a noisy neighbor is to find out from previous landlords or neighbors. Certainly no one wants to rent to a noisy neighbor. I would suggest that you speak with an attorney to make sure that you would not be violating any discrimination laws.

  14. Hi! Please Help! Where can I find the social construct for a “single-family” in chicago. According to bylaws, my condo unit is to be “single family” however, I would like to know exactly what the city defines this as? I called and spoke to someone at the city and they said it was up to 4 unrelated people could be still considered a single family. Can you please clarify if this is correct? Also, where would I be able to find this answer? Thanks for your help!

  15. My neighbors directly above me have three very noisy small children in a one bedroom apartment. This is a condo building where many of the condos are being rented. My neighbors are renting. We have complained about the noise (that will occur as late as 2am) but the condo manager says that that unit’s owner is experiencing financial difficulties which translate that he is not paying his assessments and/or mortgage. It seems that management is having problems contacting him. Is there anything we can do. We have downsized after the last of our kids has gone away to college. We just want peace. Thanks

    1. Noise is a particularly difficult situation to deal with. Have you visited with the neighbors above and told them about the problem and looked for ways to ameliorate the problem. The condo association may have rights to evict the renters particularly if the owner is not paying their assessments. I am not familiar with condo laws. Are other units in the building experiencing similar problems. If so you might talk with them and look for a way to pressure the condo association to take more aggressive action. Another thing to be aware of is that it is illegal to discriminate against families with children.

  16. I live in a condominium complex that is trying to pass a no renter ruling. Currently, one unit is about to be rented by people who have inhereited their unit from a family member.
    The unit is 2 bedrooms and approx 800 sq ft. The owners are trying have signed a rental agreement with a 6 person family (2 parents, 2 teenagers and two childeren) Does this break housing code based on the 600 sq ft ruling ? Does the Home Owners Association have any rights in this situation ?

    1. Certainly our agency is not in favor of owner only rules. In this market it may not be good for owner either should one have to move as this is not a time to sell. Also I would tend to think that an occupied unit is preferable to a vacant unit for all involved. Finally most renters are very good neighbors.

      As to whether your owners association can create more stringent occupancy standards than those of the city. What you have to be careful of is not running afoul of federal state and local fair housing ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on familial status. It is illegal to say no kids. Given that you may be able to create a rules that would limit the number of people allowed to live in a unit. For instance you may be able to limit the number of people in a one bedroom to 3. In order to help you create such a rule it would be best to consult with an attorney or one of the fair housing agencies in the area. Here is a link to the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, They may be able to help with this issue.

  17. please help. I am trying to rent a condo and am told that 6 people (mother, father, and 4 children) cannot move into a 2 bedroom condo (772 sqft) because it is too many people. Could you please tell me the municipal code for this so i can bring it with to my meeting with the condo association? Or whatever source or help you may have!!

    1. Here is a link to Chicago occupancy standards, They are very broad. The owners may be able to create more stringent occupancy guidelines than Chicago’s limits which were made a long time ago. If you think that the condo Association is discriminating against you I would contact the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, They may be able to help with this issue.

  18. I was wondering what the legal number of occupants are for a two bedroom apartment in Chicago, Illinois? The apartment is about 850 square feet and currently we have 3 adults and 2 small children.

  19. In a 3 beroom apt(11to 1200 sqr ft) is there a minimum and maximum amount of people allowed to live thre?

    1. There are no state or city statutes regarding minimum amount of people allowed to live in a three bedroom. If you live in a subsidized building, HUD or any other agency can and often do set minimum occupancy standards for a variety of reasons. An owner can impose minimum occupancy standards as long as they do not violate fair housing policies. The City of Chicago does have maximum occupancy standards. For the most part they are quite high and are determined by the unit’s area. According to Chicago’s law more than 10 people would be allowed to live in 1100 square foot apartment.

  20. What if I don’t want to move out? I just received a letter that I have to move out for no reason. It’s hard. I pay the rent on time and everything but my landlord has mental problem – he thinks my husband puts some chemicals in his appartement wich is crazy. My husb is a truckdriver and comes home 2 times a month and is not even close to the person my landlord thinks he is. What can I do? I don’t want to move again! I have 3 wonderful kids, don’t do anything wrong.. Paying on time! What do do?

    1. A landlord does not have to provide a reason to evict a tenant. The Metropolitan Tenants Organization believes that landlords should have to provide some just reason to evict a tenant such as nonpayment of rent, failure to follow rules, etc. Under the current law a landlord can evict someone for wearing sunglasses because they do not like sunglasses. I would urge you to call your alderman, state legislator and ask why a landlord can evict a tenant who is paying their rent on time for a reason that is crazy. It is not fair.

      The landlord is not allowed to discriminate based on the classes defined by federal, state and local laws. You did not mention any discrimination. Could there be any? Is there anything other reason that the landlord may be trying to evict other than he being crazy? Could the landlord be mad at you for complaining about something?

      Do you have a lease? If you have a lease and if it is not over then the landlord should not be able to evict you as long as you pay the rent and follow the rules. There may be other other legal arguments that you many have that an attorney can help you with.

  21. What is the maximum amount a landlord can charge its tenants in late fees? Please advise. I currently pay $750 month in rent and I believe my landlord has been over charging me?!

    1. If you live in Chicago and are covered by Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance then the maximum amount that you can be charged is $10 for the first $500 plus 5% for the remaining $250. This means the landlord can charge you $22.50.

  22. What are the provisions for breaking a lease if the atmosphere between roommates is caustic?

    1. This question would be best answered by call our tenants rights hotline. In general if you are going to break a lease when there are roommates involved you will have to have the agreement of all parties concerned including the landlord. In most cases each tenant will be jointly and severably liable to fulfill the lease. In these cases our first suggestion would be to try mediation. In Chicago the Center for Conflict Resolution provides free mediation services. They can be contacted at 312922-6464 or here is a link to their web page.

  23. This is a good question and probably best answered on the hotline (see below). Do you have anything in writing from the previous management company stating that as long as the pets were not in the apartment for 3 months then you did not have to pay a deposit. How long have lived in the apartment was the past management aware that you kept pets in the unit. You may run into some problems regarding running a business out of your apartment.

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