Columbia’s zoning laws, found in Chapter 29 of City Ordinances, place limits on the number of people who can occupy a housing unit based on the definition of family. Essentially, not more than three unrelated people can live together in property located in R-1 zoning and not more than four can live together in other zoning districts. Read about the definition of a family and how it applies.
When residential units exceed the occupancy limits, there is additional traffic, trash and noise that affect neighbors and the possibility of unsafe living conditions for the occupants.
On January 7, 2013, the Columbia City Council adopted an occupancy disclosure ordinance. This ordinance requires:
The lease or occupancy disclosure form must be provided to a city inspector or police officer upon an investigation of a code violation.
New and renewal leases written starting February 1, 2013 should comply with this ordinance.
The City’s webpage – www.GoColumbiaMo.com - contains a map that has the zoning district for each property in the City. City staff is also happy to assist property owners and managers in determining their zoning district or the PUD density.
When and how is the occupancy disclosure used by the City?
Leases containing the disclosure and the occupancy disclosure forms are to be maintained in the office of the manager of the rental unit. These do not need to be submitted to the City unless requested. City inspectors or police officers may request to see these documents upon investigation of a code violation. The primary interest of the Office of Neighborhood Services is to enforce occupancy violations, property maintenance violations and health violations related to residences. City inspectors may request to view the leases or the disclosure forms to ensure landlords are complying with this ordinance.
The ordinance states the lease shall include the zoning district and the applicable occupancy limitations. There is no requirement on how that is achieved. As a convenience to landlords, the City is sharing this language that you may choose to use:
ZONING DISTRICT AND OCCUPANCY LIMIT: Lessee understands that the premises are located in the ____ zoning district and agrees that: (a) the maximum number of unrelated persons who may occupy the unit is ____, and (b) related occupants must be in compliance with the definition of a "family" contained in Section 29-2 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Columbia, Missouri.
Rental property owners may include the lease language or have their tenants complete the Zoning Occupancy Disclosure Form. The form may be helpful in cases where you have an oral lease or as a matter of convenience.
The City ordinance limiting occupancy does not prohibit property owners from further limiting the occupancy. Rental property owners may want to clarify this with their tenants and also communicate policies in writing through the lease.
The ordinance is effective February 1 on new and renewal leases. The City considers the ordinance to apply to oral or month-to-month leases on February 1. A lease including the zoning district and occupancy limits or a disclosure form should be signed by the tenants in those instances by February 1.
Mobile homes that are rented must comply with the occupancy disclosure requirements added to Chapter 22 like other rental property. In cases of lots being leased to owner/occupied mobile homes, the property manager must make the home owner aware of the zoning district and limitations at the time of leasing as required in Chapter 13.
The zoning occupancy limitation is not based on number of bedrooms or square foot of living space. This issue is addressed through the Property Maintenance Code but is not regulated by zoning.
The City zoning map indicates when a property is in a PUD but may not list the density. PUD's with a density of 5 units or less per acre allow 3 unrelated occupants; more than 5 units per acre allows four. Please contact us and the City can provide you with the PUD density.
City of Columbia Ordinance Section 22-184 Certificate of compliance and notice of occupancy limitations.
(a) It shall be unlawful to operate within the city any apartment house, rooming house, two-family dwelling, or single rental unit without a current certificate of compliance . The certificate of compliance shall be displayed in the office of the manager.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to lease or sublease any apartment house, rooming house, two-family dwelling or single rental unit without first providing to the lessee or sublessee notice of the zoning district in which the property is located and the applicable occupancy limitations under chapter 29. The notice shall either be contained in the written lease or shall be on a zoning occupancy disclosure form provided by the director and signed by the lessor and each lessee. All current zoning occupancy disclosure forms and leases for the property shall be maintained in the office of the manager.
(c) It shall be unlawful for any owner, operator, agent or property manager of a rental unit to fail to immediately exhibit, upon request by a police officer or city inspector investigating any code violation, all lease, rental payment, tenant information and the zoning occupancy disclosure form pertaining to the unit. No person shall be found guilty of violating this subsection if the person demonstrates to the city that the person met the disclosure requirements of this section at the time of the alleged violation by producing the properly executed documentation within seven (7) days of the date of the alleged violation.
(Code 1964, § 11.1120(G); Ord. No. 11416, § 1, 3-16-87; Ord. No. 21425, § 1, 9-17-12; Ord. No. 21558, § 2, 1-7-13) (Ord. 21558, Amended, 01/07/2013, Prior Text; Ord. 21425, Amended, 09/17/2012, Prior Text)
Information Provided by: The City of Columbia Office of Neighborhood Services