Austin (KXAN) — The Austin City Council voted Thursday to amend a city code that caps the number of unrelated adults living in a residential home from 4 people up to 6 people in a residential home.
The amendment was sponsored by council members Qadri, Fuentes, Pool, Valeasquez and Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis.
Qadri, who represents District 9, said the limit City Code Title 25 was outdated and no longer served a purpose amid the current housing crisis facing Austin.
During his remarks at the meeting, Qadri said he visited with members of the council back in 2014 when the cap was placed. He said it was enforced at that time to quash ‘stealth dorms’ or homes zoned for single-family use but that host multiple unrelated people.
“The four-person cap has long outlived its usefulness and it unduly constrains our ability to address the current housing crisis,” Qadri said.
Qadri and Mayor Pro Tem Ellis said the cap presents more harm amid rising rent, home, and land prices.
“At a time when rents continue to go over $200 a month upon renewal, the City of Austin must stop policing people’s relationships they choose in order to afford housing in the city,” Qadri said.
“My sister was a UT student living in a three-bedroom house with five girls, and about 15 years ago, I was someone who was living with four people unrelated in a duplex. My sister and I both at some point would not have been able to have that roof over our heads,” Ellis said.
The Questions and Answers report on this agenda item gave a closer look at the specificities of the code amendment. It provided an example using a 3 bedroom, 1,200 square foot home for reference.
It said all 3 rooms in the home had to be a minimum of 70 square feet, in order to allow 2 adult occupants inside.
Emily Blair, executive vice president of the Austin Apartment Association, said with living costs on the rise, it’s not uncommon for Austenites to consider having multiple unrelated roommates to ease the financial burden.
She also stressed that it is important to follow proper fire, safety, and city codes even if splitting living expenses is the main reason to consider living with others.
“Those types of opportunities for more housing options for renters is a good thing. If we can say In the compliance with those regulatory rules,” Blair said.