UPDATED: May 27, 2009

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I am the lease holder for a house in a residential area in Middletown N.Y. I am being harrassed by the building dept. saying I am running an illegal boarding house. I have one roommate. How many can I have? It is a three bedroom house. No padlocks, shared kitchen and bath….shared house period. Thank you.

Asked on May 27, 2009 under Real Estate Law, New York


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

This is an interesting question, and the law might differ from one state to another, but there is a limit to the government's power here.  You need to talk to an experienced lawyer in your area, one who will research the cases on constitutional law on this issue.

At some point, the government's public interest is less than the individual's right to be left alone, and some states' courts have ruled that having one roommate, in a three-bedroom house, is not a boarding house.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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