The Definition Can Vary
The single family residence definition typically states that it is a home that is used by a single private family and which serves no other purpose. A family usually consists of parents, children, and any other direct relatives who are living in the house with them. Families can vary in size and diversity depending on the living environment. For example, a married couple without children or other relatives would consist of a single family.
This definition can be confusing when applying it to single people who live alone. For the law, they are a family in and of themselves. This provision is put into place to avoid allowing others to live in a one-bedroom home, such as having a friend pay to sleep on a couch or the floor. However, overnight visitors are okay in most cases. They only break the law if they make that living area their permanent residence.
Those Who Can Be Allowed in One
Typically, residents of a single home are those who are directly related to the homeowners. For example, all children of the parents (including step-children and adopted children) qualify under the single family residence definition. The same applies to a variety of other relatives, including the following:
- Uncles and aunts
- Nieces and nephews
Typically, the closer a person is related to the homeowner, the more likely they are to fit the single family residence definition. This definition gets stretched if, say, a spare bedroom is rented out to a friend who is “like family.” It also gets more complicated if a married couple moves in with a friend. Typically, this does break the law because more than one family lives in the home.
When Residents Break the Rule
So what happens when a person breaks the rules dictating this living environment? That situation depends on the nature of the violation. For example, trying to cram two families into a single home breaks a variety of laws, including fire codes and safety procedures. A single family residence is likely to have no more than three or four bedrooms. Forcing four or five people into a bedroom is simply not safe and is likely to be punished.
However, other violations can be a lot more subtle. For example, a person who sleeps on a friend’s couch and pays part of their rent is violating single residency laws. A home that has been defined and zoned as a single residence cannot be used in this way. Though less likely to be caught and prosecuted, this is still a violation of living codes.
There are also many difficulties inherent when a person tries to break a single residence up into multiple living areas. You might see this situation if a home is divided up into smaller portions. Typically, this type of living condition requires rezoning a home, paying special fees, and sharing the home in a particular manner.
Penalties Can Be Steep
Just how serious are penalties for those who break the rules? Again, that situation all depends on the violation. For example, it is possible that a person may suffer little more than a small fine while receiving a strict warning from the judge. That said, most cases of this type are severe when prosecuted. Most cases aren’t pursued because they are hard to prove, but when they are the law typically throws the book at offenders.
For example, it is possible to suffer from fines as large as $10,000 to $15,000 for a serious violation. These fines are this large because they help deter people who would pursue unsafe living conditions. Typically, they are set in place for homeowners and landlords who try to sneak around the rules as a way of making extra money. That said, even people who live in the home may be fined if they willing break these laws.
Avoiding This Problem
The easiest way of avoiding this problem is to talk to a property management company in St. George and ask them the following questions:
- Is my home a single residency?
- Who can live in my home with me?
- What happens if I try to break my house into multiple apartments?
- Can I get my home rezoned if necessary?
- What guidelines dictate allowing renters in my home?
By understanding these rules and talking to a property manager right away, you can avoid serious penalties and stay on the right side of the law. You can also learn whether or not it is possible to expand your home, situations in which you can and cannot have renters, and how to qualify for certain types of assistance for converting single homes into multiple residences.
As you can see, understanding the single family residence definition is a crucial step towards ensuring a legal and safe living situation. People who have never talked to a property management company in St. George or who don’t understand single residence laws are putting themselves at an increased risk of suffering from penalties and severe fines.
By talking to property managers in St. George, you can ensure that your living situation isn’t in violation of any laws. You can also better understand your rights in challenging legal cases, including criminal cases pursued by the state. There’s no reason that you need to be brought to trial because of how you live your life.