Law banning residential occupancy limits in Colorado takes effect

Supporters of the new law say it will provide more affordable housing options
Denver housing co-op
Posted at 11:19 AM, Jul 02, 2024

DENVER — The number of adults living together in one house is no longer limited in Colorado.

House Bill 24-1007, also known as the HOME (Harmonizing Occupancy Measures Equitably) Act, took effect Monday. The law prohibits local governments from limiting the number of unrelated people living together under the same roof.

When Sarah Wells and her husband, Stephen Polk, bought a home in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood nine years ago, they wanted to share it with others.

“We really wanted to be an example that collectivism and shared housing could be done in a way where we were good neighbors and taking good care of our house,” said Wells.

They decided to start the Queen City Cooperative, a type of housing model where residents jointly own the property.

"We eat together, we share chores,” said Wells. “Our housemates are often the childcare providers for our son."

Law banning residential occupancy limits in Colorado takes effect
Sarah Wells and Stephen Polk decided to start a housing cooperative at their home in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Paul Bindel, who was one of the first people Sarah and Stephen asked to live in the co-op, said in addition to a reduced cost of living, it provides residents with emotional support.

"It’s essentially just operating as a family household together,” said Bindel.

Housing co-ops have been around for decades. But today, they’re seen as one of the possible solutions to the housing crisis, providing people with a more affordable option.

"Every time a room opens up, we'll get anywhere from 20 to 55 applications for that one room,” said Polk.

Previously, the City of Denver limited how many unrelated adults could live together in one home.

Denver housing co-op
Residents of the housing cooperative divide up household chores.

"When we first moved into this house, you couldn't have more than two unrelated adults to live in a home,” said Wells.

That meant they were technically breaking the law.

“We worked to change the law in Denver to five, and we were still illegal,” said Wells.

But as of Monday, they don’t have to worry anymore.

"As of today, I can happily declare that we have eight adults in our seven-bedroom house,” said Wells.


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Critics of residential occupancy limits said they have been used historically to discriminate against certain groups, mostly ethnic and cultural minorities and multi-generational families.

“Discriminatory occupancy limits have been used to keep out immigrant communities, to be able to tell folks in the LGBTQ community who they can or can't live with. And frankly, it should be unconstitutional,” said State Rep. Manny Rutinel, D-Commerce City, one of the bill sponsors.

Local governments can still impose some occupancy limits to address “demonstrated health and safety standards, such as international building code standards, fire code regulations, or Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment wastewater and water quality standards; or local, state, federal, or political subdivision affordable housing program guidelines.”

Rutinel said the new law will impact a variety of people.

“This bill will have benefits for folks across Colorado, whether it's because you are a Latino family who want to live in a multi-generational household, like the families that I've lived with throughout my life, or whether you're part of the LGBTQ community and want to be able to live with partners who don't share your same last name,” said Rutinel.

Denver housing co-op
Housing co-op residents Sarah Wells and Paul Bindel work on a puzzle.

Landlords who opposed the legislation said getting rid of residential occupancy limits would lead to more wear and tear on their properties. Opponents also argued it would have unintended consequences.

“This is going to increase the rents. It’s not going to help the people you think it’s going to help,” said State Sen. Janice Rich, a Republican who represents Delta and Mesa counties.

But after years of constant worry, Wells, Polk and others at their housing co-op can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"It feels like such a relief to not be worried about a knock on the door from the zoning department,” Wells said.

New law bans residential occupancy limits in Colorado

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