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The entire city of Bloomington is governed by a zoning ordinance that, in part, dictates the types of land use (i.e. commercial vs. residential, single-family vs. multi-unit) that are allowed. The city is divided into many areas, each with its own particular zoning classification and set of approved uses and occupancy classifications.

There are many areas within the city that are zoned "RS", for residential use only. Typically, in a residential single family zone the maximum allowable occupancy is 1) a single family or 2) three adults. In a residential, multi-dwelling zone up to five adults may be allowed to live in the same unit. There are also some properties within a residential zone which have been legally grandfathered to allow more than 3 adults (this means that the property is on record as having housed more than three adults prior to the enactment of the newest zoning ordinance).

Typically over-occupancy complaints are prompted by other issues, such as: improper trash disposal by tenants, large numbers of vehicles being parked at a property, or loud parties.

When an over-occupancy complaint is filed:

  1. The address is checked to see if it is registered with the HAND Department.
  2. Maximum allowable occupancy for that property is checked.
  3. An inspector is then assigned to do an investigation.

If over-occupancy is confirmed, the case is then turned over to the City's Legal Department. The owner/agent of the over-occupied property is given a deadline by which the property must be brought into compliance with the zoning regulations. This does mean that tenants will have to move out in order to reduce the number of tenants to the maximum allowable occupancy level.