SW Legal studies in Business

Renting House to Group of College Students Violates Residential Zoning Ordinance

Trial court held that a landlord violated a city zoning ordinance concerning residential property. Renting a house to a large group of college students violates the residential zoning classification of the house involved; however, the city may not immediately evict the tenants.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Zoning; Residence; Enforcement

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

The City of Binghamton’s zoning ordinance specified the details of what constitutes residential dwellings. It limited the number of unrelated persons who could share a dwelling. The city determined that one house was being shared by seven individuals (“a frat house”) in violation of the residential classification. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) ordered the landlord to evict the tenants from the property. The landlord appealed, contending the house was a residence.


Affirmed in part, reversed in part. “The definition of functional and factual family equivalent requires that the ZBA determine whether a living arrangement as stability akin to a permanent family structure and provides eight criteria which may be considered in that regard.” The ZBA found that the arrangement was temporary, as residents were students who moved in and out. The attempt to call this a “family arrangement” fails. The rent paid by the residents was three to four times the rent that would be paid by a family living in such a house in that location, which is further evidence that it is not a typical family residential arrangement. The landlord entered into a residential lease in violation of the zoning ordinance. However, the zoning ordinance allows an eviction order only if property is used for an illegal purpose, such as drug dealing. There is no evidence of illegal activity by the residents of the house, so the city may not order an immediate eviction, but the lease cannot be continued in the future.

Citation Bayram v. City of Binghamton, 899 N.Y.S.2d 566 (Sup. Ct., NY, 2010)

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