Occupancy Ordinances

1.    More than 3 unrelated adults living in a unit, no matter how many bedrooms, requires a rooming house license*. This is not common for landlords to have in the City of Milwaukee, as it is typically pricey. Additionally, there must be more than one exit within the dwelling. If looking at an attic or basement unit, make sure there are multiple exits, or it is an illegal dwelling. Citations could be as much as $5,000 and may be issued against the landlord and the tenant for illegal occupancy.

2.    A common ploy by unethical landlords is to allow more than three unrelated adults to rent a location, saying something similar to: “You can just put three names on the lease” or “How many people that live there is up to you. I don’t prohibit subleasing.” When caught by the City of Milwaukee, the landlords may then claim to have only rented to a legal number of people. Only those on the lease can legally stay, and must pay the entirety of the rent for the rest of the lease. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. Moving and finding a new apartment in the middle of the semester for this reason is an unnecessarily stressful experience.

3.    Check the Department of Neighborhood Services website and look up the complaint and violation history of the property. Most landlords are honorable business people. However, some have bad records. You may also check Wisconsin Circuit Court Access for a possible landlord’s court record. Be aware of properties with recent, active violations and landlords with backgrounds of excessive housing related records, such as evictions.

4.    Property complaints can be made to the Department of Neighborhood Services Customer Service line at 414-286-2268, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m—4:45 p.m.

Don’t get evicted!

Renting with more than three unrelated adults puts tenants and the landlord at risk for tickets and eviction.

*A rooming house means any building or part of any building or dwelling unit occupied by more than three persons who are not a family** or by a family and more than two other persons for periods of occupancy usually longer than one night and where a bathroom and toilet are shared.

**Family means, unless otherwise specified, a person occupying a dwelling unit, or dwelling unit with one or more persons who are legally related to such occupant by virtue of being husband and wife, son or daughter, uncle or aunt, grandparent or grandchild, niece or nephew, first cousin, mother or father-in-law, all of whom comprise no more than one nuclear family unit per household.