View Full Version : How many children can share a room?

Deadly Nightlight
09-23-2003, 05:40 PM
My friends and I were talking about when we had to share rooms in our youth( or them anyway, as my siblings were moving out when I came on the scene). I have two friends a boy and a girl who also shared a room with a younger brother. And then I have two other friends, both girls(sisters) who also shared a room.

Now according to the Two Girls, it is unlawful for there to be more than two children to a room and it is also unlawful for a girl and a boy to share a room past the age of 8.

My friends that are the boy and girl say that that is BS.

Personally I don't know a thing about it, I know that if you use HUD there are some regulations about how many people can share a room( i think) so Maybe the two girls parents were in a HUD program, who knows.

So I thought I might as some people who might know, How many children can share a room and can boys and girls share a room past a certain age?

(it would seem to me that it would not matter how many kids are in a room as long as there is enough room for everyone, the boy girl thing however is iffy with me, but I guess thats an IMHO thing)

Bryan Ekers
09-23-2003, 06:04 PM
You're dabbling with a potentially massive cootie epidemic. Be careful.

Deadly Nightlight
09-24-2003, 02:32 PM
Har har har, Is there any real info on this? I googled but I came up short

09-24-2003, 03:04 PM
I don't know about current laws, but my mother shared a room with her two sisters growing up. Perhaps she was being hyperbolic, like saying "It's just criminal that...". Then again, maybe my grandparents are criminals.

09-24-2003, 03:12 PM
A) Any such law would be local. Not state, not national.
B) I have never heard of such a law dictating how many family members may share a room, and I doubt there is one anywhere in the U.S.

09-24-2003, 03:28 PM
Wow, they've never seen Mexican families. I don't think it's a law but usually a policy of landlords.

09-24-2003, 03:32 PM
As a kid, I had a friend (male) who shared a bedroom with his sister until he was about 10 or 12 -- I can't remember precisely. She was about a year younger. I remember thinking it was kinda weird, though. It wasn't like they had a tiny house.

09-24-2003, 05:08 PM
Well, considering that I know of a lot of colleges that will put 3, 4, 5, or in really horrible cases 6 people (of the same sex, of course) into a room, I'm kinda doubting it. This seems like something that would be a regulation of an individual landlord or government agency rather than a law.

Fretful Porpentine
09-24-2003, 05:49 PM
My brother and I never actually shared a room, but we both slept in the basement rec room during the summer until we moved into a house with central air conditioning when we were 10 and 14, respectively. It didn't feel particularly weird; it's not like you have any sexual interest in (or too many secrets from) your siblings.

09-24-2003, 09:15 PM
I seriously doubt there are any regulations on the subject. If you have a two-bedroom apartment and three kids, and can't afford anything bigger, what are they going to do about it? Evict you and put the kids on the street?

There is a long history of many siblings sharing rooms. And while there are issues with same-sex siblings doing so, it's been a common practice throughout history.

09-24-2003, 09:24 PM
The smaller the kids and the bigger the room, the more you can fit.

Bryan Ekers
09-24-2003, 11:15 PM
Barring local fire regulations, which only specify the number of people and not their gender mix, I doubt any such regulations exist.

09-25-2003, 01:44 AM
It's probably a landlord regulation.

My husband and I lived in family student housing in college. Since there were so few three-bedroom units, there were strict regulations about who could rent them, and their regulations sounded a lot like the ones your friend cited--you could get one if you had more than three children, or if you had at least two children of opposite sexes and the eldest was, IIRC, at least 6. So, if you had three girls, they all had to share, but if you had a boy and a girl, they only had to share until one of them turned six, and then you'd be eligible for a larger apartment.

I don't think that you were forced to rent the larger apartment...maybe you were if you had four or more children (the rooms were small--I can't imagine fitting three kids in there, much less four) but you had the choice of separating the genders of older children if you felt that was necessary.

And, obviously, they felt that there was nothing wrong with three children sharing a room.

09-25-2003, 02:37 AM
Such regulations certainly do exist -- almost any city will have a zoning section of their city ordinances, which nearly always includes specifications of how many people can occupy a dwelling.

For example, here's a section from the Minneapolis Ordinances: 546.50. Maximum occupancy. (a) Dwelling units. The maximum occupancy of a dwelling unit located in the R1 through R3 Districts shall not exceed one (1) family plus up to two (2) unrelated persons living together as a permanent household, provided that the family plus the unrelated persons shall not exceed a total of five (5) persons. The maximum occupancy of a dwelling unit located in the R4 through R6 Districts shall not exceed one (1) family plus four (4) unrelated persons living together as a permanent household, provided that the family plus the unrelated persons shall not exceed a total of five (5) persons. (R1 thru R6 refer to various zoning classifications.) There are many more, detailed sections about this in the ordinances.

Enforcement of these provisions, however, is less certain. It's often hard for the city inspectors to know just how many people are living in a house. But you can get in trouble for violating these ordinances. Even to the extent of having your kids taken away by Child Protection, if you force them to live in sub-standard housing.

09-25-2003, 02:42 AM
But t-bonham, note that the ordinances do not limit how many family members may share a dwelling, and that is the crucial point of this thread. The ordinances regulate how many unrelated persons may share the dwelling.

09-25-2003, 02:54 AM
Originally posted by Walloon
But t-bonham, note that the ordinances do not limit how many family members may share a dwelling, and that is the crucial point of this thread. The ordinances regulate how many unrelated persons may share the dwelling. Read more closely:

provided that the family plus the unrelated persons shall not exceed a total of five (5) persons.

09-25-2003, 04:29 AM
I know of a proposed regulation that deals with the right of immigrants to stay in the country. One of the prerequisites is that they have "proper housing", which includes a minimum number of square metres available for each person (I think more for adults, less for kids, depending on the age) and kids of different gender above the age of 8 living in separate rooms.
This was discussed a lot in public (many local families did not meet these standards), and I think it never became law, actually.

09-25-2003, 05:29 AM
Originally posted by t-bonham@scc.net
Read more closely:

provided that the family plus the unrelated persons shall not exceed a total of five (5) persons. But if there are no "unrelated persons" living in the house, how many family members can live in it? The way you're reading it, Mom, Dad, and four kids could not all live in the same house!
The regulation sounds like an attempt to stop unregulated boarding houses, and to control things like off-campus apartments and fraternity housing near colleges - not to say that you can't have a family of six or more people living together.

09-25-2003, 05:58 AM
My brother and I shared a room until he was 13 and I was 10. Not problems at all. There were only 2 bedrooms in our house. Then untile we went to college my brother had a big room and I had a little room off of his and had to go through his room to get anywhere. No problems there either except it made me mad.

09-25-2003, 06:27 AM
I grew up with 2 sisters and a brother in a 3 bedroom house. My mother took in a lot foster kids. (About 22 over the course of 15 years or so.) The Childrens' Aid Society (as it was then) designated a certain number of square feet of bedroom space per foster kid, but didn't have any regulatory power over us 3.
We just bunked the new kid in the same sex bedroom. The social worker would schedule visits every once in a while to ensure the kid had adequate sleeping quarters.
We would then play musical bedrooms. My brother or I would be "moved" to the basement rec room and the bedroom would be made to look like it was occupied by 2 people. After she left, everything went back to the way it was.
When they (the CAS) were in a bind, like discovering 2 abandoned kids and having no place to put them, they'd hit up my mother (who was a soft touch), and didn't really care about the requirements. They knew the kids would get bathed, clothed fed and have a place to sleep until they sorted it all out.
My guess is that most jurisdictions have some regulations in place, but enforcement is spotty unless there is gross overcrowding or dangerous conditions. Usually, this is a by-product of some other problem and is only able to be used when someone reports a family to Child Services for neglect or abuse etc. I mean, how is anyone going to know you've stuffed a bunch of kids in the small bedroom and are using the big one for your den?

09-25-2003, 06:29 AM
Jeez now I can't even count:
but didn't have any regulatory power over us 3
but didn't have any regulatory power over us 4

09-25-2003, 06:55 AM
Let's see - I'm the oldest of 5 kids. My childhood was spent in a 3-bedroom/1 bath house. I always shared a room with the sister who was born just after me. My brother and the next sister shared a room until the youngest sister was born. Then bro (9 y/o at the time) moved to a basement room by himself (lucky duck!!) and the two youngest shared the small bedroom.

My husband and his 2 brothers shared the same room for years. Granted, it was a fairly large, dormitory-type layout, but his folks didn't see the need for individual rooms for the individual boys at that point. Once they were teens, I think they got their own spaces.

And my mom (going back lots of years) grew up in a 3 BR house with not only her parents and 3 sibs, but several uncles and cousins at various times. One took care of family, and if that meant you shared your bed with your sister because cousin Marsha was staying for a few months, that's what you did.

09-25-2003, 08:08 AM
* When I worked for DFCS in 1998, there were definite laws on opposite-sex siblings sharing a room- after one of them reached age six, they were to be separated. Whether these laws were enforced or not really depended on the caseworker and how significant the underlying problem with the family was. On more than one occasion I saw a caseworker whose evidence was otherwise pretty slim use the "there aren't separate bedrooms" clause to keep kids in foster care long enough to gather additional information on the parents. Other caseworkers looked the other way if the parents were doing the best they could and just didn't have the funds to get a bigger house. One of my classmates still works for DFCS- I can get cites in the next few days.

* As a community leader for a support board for stepmothers for over six years, I've seen more and more divorce papers specifying that opposite-sex siblings over the age of 4-6 (depends on the jurisdiction/judge/how petty the parents are) must have their own rooms in each home. This is becoming a huge issue for non-custodials, who are then required to always have the extra room or forfeit visitation. One of my friends is currently contesting this divorce clause due to financial hardship.. I'm almost afraid to see where it goes.

As for number of family members in a house/same-sex siblings in a room, I haven't seen anything legislating that. But like most of you, I know plenty of people who shared a room with (same and opposite sex) siblings growing up, and it wasn't a big deal.

09-25-2003, 11:17 AM
t-bonham, you're only confirming my point: there is no regulation dealing with family members only. The OP was about family members.

09-25-2003, 11:37 AM
My sister works for SRS here in VT, and we were just discussing these regulations this weekend.

I had not been aware of it, but there are SRS regulations that are as you state: no more than 2 in a bedroom, no mixed-sex siblings sharing a room after age 8. These regulations, obviously, are only for families under SRS ...supervision? ...care?
Anyway, it wouldn't be enforced on some random person. It's just a rule that is there to make sure that the people that they help get an adequate ammount of space when they help with housing.
If someone were to violate this, they wouldn't be thrown in jail or anything, the agency would just try to help them find a bigger apartment.

09-25-2003, 12:28 PM
"SRS" being . . . what?

09-25-2003, 12:53 PM
The Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) is a model code that is modified and adopted by the various states to govern, among other things, the construction and occupancy of various types of buildings. The amount of square footage required for a sleeping room, and the number, type, and location of required entrances and exits, fire alarms, etc. is covered. There certainly is a limit, and I just leafed through my copy of the VA USBC, but couldn't find it right off.

It most certainly is regulated.

09-25-2003, 01:03 PM
Social and Rehabilitative Services. You know, welfare and child services.

Sorry, I forgot that the initials vary from place to place.

09-25-2003, 03:59 PM
OK, we're still waiting for someone to quote a regulation that limits the number and/or sex of family members in one bedroom.

Remember, the OP said, "Now according to the Two Girls, it is unlawful for there to be more than two children to a room and it is also unlawful for a girl and a boy to share a room past the age of 8."

Nefarious Chipmunk
09-25-2003, 04:27 PM
When I was growing up my two sisters and I shared a room. It was a big room, so it was little cramped, but not uncomfortable or unsanitary. It seems like the size of the room would have to be an issue. I mean, I can understand how it wouldn't be good to put three kids in a 10 square foot room, but what about a 20 square foot room?

I also know a family that has two boys and two girls sharing a room. The oldest girl is 16 and the youngest boy is 8 or 9. Once again, it is a rather large room. This doesn't seem to adversly affect the children in any way (other then on the annoyance level.) When one is changing, then they just go into the bathroom.

09-25-2003, 04:28 PM
I worked for child protective services in the early '90s, and while there were regulations regarding bedrooms and children of the opposite sex sharing them regarding foster families, they were only regarding foster families. There would never have been such a rule regarding non-foster families, because the city would then be required to find appropriate housing to avoid foster care placement. This does not mean that it was not considered a problem to have your children in living in substandard housing - just that the mere fact that more than a specified number of children shared a bedroom or that opposite sex siblings over a certain age sharing did not make the housing substandard in and of itself.


I'm sure the building codes you refer to do set out minimum requirements for a sleeping space. They probably do not set a maximum size for a sleeping space, and I don't see how a building code can govern how the space is actually used by those living there. It seems to me that the building code would regulate the building and perhaps the marketing of the house or apartment - maybe it can't be advertised as a three bedroom because the third " bedroom " doesn't meet the standards. I suppose it could even regulate which apartments can be rented to families of a particular size- perhaps a landlord could be prohibited from renting a studio to more than two people. But I doubt very much that the building code requires that a landlord evict a couple from a from a studio when they have a child, or requires that a family sell their three bedroom house and move when they have a fifth child.

Nefarious Chipmunk
09-25-2003, 04:30 PM
I meant 100 square feet or 400 square feet room

Deadly Nightlight
09-25-2003, 07:40 PM
wow, I went away and did not come back expecting all these replies!

Like I said earlier, I am not real familiar with any law like that... I mean as long as there is enough room theoretically 10 children could share a room right?

09-25-2003, 10:05 PM
I had a student who was one of 7 siblings. The kids had 2 rooms to use for bed. They had what they called the boys dorm room and the girls dorm room. The beds were set up something like when you go to camp . . all in a row.

They seemed to be a happy, close knit family and from what I have seen of the grown children, now, there were little ill affects.
The older kids each were asigned a younger kid to watch and help out. They all learned responsibility.

09-25-2003, 10:44 PM
How do you fit 100 babies into a garbage can? BLENDER!

But seriously, might it be a fire code thing? something nebulous like "...so as not to obstruct expedient evacuation of ...."

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