The world of real estate has many confusing terms and references that can make finding a home difficult. You may have seen the phrase single family home and wonder whether such a property can be shared with others, including people who are not in your family. So can many families live in a single family home?
While it may depend on the specific rules where you live, generally there is no limit on how many families can live in a single family home. While the norm is for one family to live in each home, there is nothing preventing multiple families from living in the same house – as long as there are enough rooms.
The word single is describing the house type rather than the restrictions on occupancy or other rules relating to who can live there. A single family home may have one bedroom or many bedrooms as well as being very large in terms of square footage or very small. The main features will be discussed throughout this article and I will show you the main things to be aware of and the restrictions that exist for such properties.
What Does “Single Family Home” Mean?
It will depend on the jurisdiction but generally, there are a few characteristics needed for something to be defined as a single family home.
First of all, the house has to be maintained and used as a single dwelling unit. This means no common walls so it will have to be a detached property. This also means that the home can’t share anything else like a roof with any other property. It will also have to be built on its own parcel of land. This also means that the owner must have an undivided interest in the property.
Unlike an apartment or similar, a single-family home has its own private, direct access to a street via a dedicated private entrance and exit. If there are hallways and a lobby that are common property, it’s unlikely to be classified as a single family home. Some jurisdictions also do not allow an additional kitchen, only one kitchen per house is allowed.
What Is the Maximum Number of Families That Can Live in a Single Family Home?
The answer depends upon state and local rules and regulations. Specific rules as to where you live should be researched, but generally, the maximum occupancy of a property is a multiplier of the bedrooms. This is normally two per bedroom plus one. This means that for a three-bedroom house, you could fit seven people.
Other jurisdictions tend to have rules that guarantee minimum square footage per person. This means that despite the number of bedrooms, you can fit more people than the above rule.
Counting people is normally only done for adults and children do not add towards this total. So as long as you are not going over the occupancy rules then there is no real limit to how many different families are represented in a single family house.
How Many Bedrooms are in a Single Family Home?
There is no real limit to the number of bedrooms for a single family home as long as it fits within the other criteria. Bedrooms themselves need to meet certain requirements such as having a window of a certain size, privacy features, and minimum square footage. But as long as the bedrooms meet these requirements, that means that occupancy rates are only really limited by the total number of rooms.
As a single family home must fit on a single parcel of land, there will generally be an upper limit on the number of bedrooms that can feasibly be fit, unless you build up (or down!). Generally, the average would be between 2 to 4 bedrooms for the average single family home.
How Many Non-Family Members Can Live in a Single Family Home?
There is no strict limit to non-family members living in a single family home under the rules of most places. As long as the general occupancy rules are followed then non-related people can all live in a single family house.
The word ‘single’ in a single family house refers to the dwelling itself being a standalone, separate dwelling rather than a duplex, apartment, or similar.
How Do I Know if It is a Single Family Home?
Generally, there will be some standard terms to look for. Listings on real estate websites should contain the necessary information otherwise you may need to make specific inquiries with your local zoning authority or direct contact to the owners or realtor.
A single-family home will have the letter R somewhere in the description. This refers to residential zoning which may often be followed by a number. So for example, an R1 rating indicates that the land allows for only one home, hence meeting one of the requirements to be a single family home.
The number is not a reference to bedrooms, and so multifamily residences normally have an R2 rating. This means that two dwellings can exist on the property, typically in the form of a duplex. As duplexes share a common wall, they will not be classified as a single family home.
You may also come across a listing with R3. This permits multifamily units such as apartments or condominiums.
Finally, the price is going to be a great indicator of whether it is a single or multi-family home. With all other things being equal, single family home is going to be much cheaper.
Single family homes will be cheaper not only because of size, as they are smaller, but multi family homes will often come with additional furnishings or amenities like pools. These will add to the price significantly. Importantly this means that the annual maintenance costs associated with single family homes will be lower and may also require less time to do the required upkeep.