Austin home occupancy limit now permanent

The City of Austin now has a permanent limit  on the number of unrelated people  who can live together in a new single-family home. The ordinance passed two years ago, but, it had an expiration date.

Stuart Hersch is a longtime renter in Austin. He has seen the city change drastically in his 40 years plus living here. Housing has been one of those changes.

“Given how much I pay in rent, I would much prefer to buy a house in the neighborhoods I've lived in, but I just haven't been able to make that happen,” he said.

Many homeowners in the city rent out rooms in their homes, it's not uncommon. Two years ago, the city passed an ordinance on new single family homes. No more than four unrelated adults can live together. Now, that has become the law permanently.

“If I lived with my unruly cousins, that would be perfectly legal, in these new houses. But the fact they are not related to me, and I can't have as many people it just doesn't seem fair,” Hersch said.

District Six councilman Don Zimmerman sat out on the vote, saying both choices he had were not right.

“If you don't enforce these kinds of limits, you might end up with more and more people packing into one building that's not designed for it, that's not good. On the flip side, it's the only way some people can afford to live here, by packing more people in the same dwelling,” he said.

Hersch believes the city should be a little more lenient and let the homeowner decide.

“Whether you're young, old or in between, you get to places in your life where living with other responsible adults should be one of the choices you have,” Hersch said.

“It's just so crazy expensive here, that people are having to double up and triple up to afford the cost of one dwelling, one residence,” Zimmerman said.

The reason for this ordinance was to prevent tearing down smaller homes and building larger houses with more rooms and bathrooms. Zimmerman believes the city will continue to create a bigger housing shortage.

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