Sunday, January 08, 2023

Currently only three unrelated people may live in a house. That may change.

by Rod Williams, Jan. 8, 2023- Currently, it is illegal for more than three unrelated people to share a house. This may soon change.  BL2022-1471 would change the definition of "family," as used in the Metro code to say that up to seven people could occupy a dwelling unit and "such group may include a combination of related and unrelated persons."

I support this. Nashville has a housing problem. Anything to increase density will help alleviate the problem.  This is basic economics.  If you restrict the supply of something people want, prices will increase. Increasing density lowers cost. Restricting supply causes a shortage. 

The current code is widely ignored anyway.  The street on which I live has several homes occupied by college students and several of them have as many as six people living in them.  I wouldn't necessarily be aware of this but my next-door neighbor is the neighborhood community organization chairman and keeps tabs on this sort of thing. The only ill effect I can see of allowing more than three unrelated people to live in a house is that it can cause a shortage of parking.  The neighborhood in which I live has mostly on-street parking and sometimes a parking space is not always available in front of my house. The problem is compounded by people who do not live in the neighborhood parking on my street to visit nearby restaurants or other attractions. That we have a parking issue, however, in my mind does not justify making the scarcity of affordable housing worse. 

While the current code is widely ignored, the fact that it is on the books means vindictive or busy-body neighbors can cause problems for a landlord who is renting to more than three unrelated people and if someone reports a landlord to Codes, he in turn is likely to come into compliance and evict several people.

Metro government so often makes the housing problem worse by doing the wrong thing such as rezoning large swaths of the county single-family only. When the Council does address affordable housing it is often an attempt to mandate policies that are bound to fail such as "inclusionary zoning" or price controls.  Luckily the State keeps Metro from passing a lot of bad legislation. 

It is good to see the Metro Council attempt to do something that will help the housing problem. Also, when laws are widely ignored, as is the current law prohibiting more than three unrelated people in a home, enforcement is arbitrary and selective which breeds contempt for law and is unjust. 

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