5 Bedroom Use Variance in Single Family at Temple University

5 Bedroom Use Variance in Single Family at Temple University

Zoning Classification: RM-1 (but operating as a single family)

Seeking: Variance to allow for 7 unrelated people to live in the home

Issue: Multiple violations and cease operations due to health and building code violations, no zoning/use permit


Talk about a doozy of a project.


Our client came to us with a slew of health/safety and zoning violations as well as a cease operations for the property.


This property was located in the heart of Temple’s campus.  For many years, it was a fraternity house. The property was zoned RM-1, although it was operating as a single family.  (Converting the house into different units was not an option due to financial reasons. It just didn’t’ make sense.)


The issue was that there were seven students living in the home without the appropriate use permit to do so. The Zoning Code states that there cannot be more than three unrelated individuals living under one single family roof. As you can see, this created a huge problem.


To solve this, we applied for a variance to allow for the property to have 7 unrelated persons living in the house.


The RCO signed-off on the 7 units without any issues.  However, some negotiations had to be made with the ZBA in order for them to signoff on the operation of the property.  ZBA requested that we lower the number of bedrooms to six and install a second kitchen on one of the upper floors.


While this project was progressing, L&I decided to really keep it interesting and kicked the kids out of the house… in the dead of winter. That was a fun day….


Because the tenants were now out of the house and the ZBA simply was not going to approve the original request, we took the time to think through the best long term options for the operation of this property.


The final outcome was five bedrooms plus the addition of a kitchen and a bathroom. The ZBA had no issues signing off on this.


The difficulty with this part of the Zoning Code is that houses like this exist everywhere, especially on college campuses: Fraternity houses, sorority houses, athletic teams, etc. with many members of the team or group living together under one roof. It’s a typical aspect of the college experience, yet it is not a typical situation that the Zoning code allows for.


November 20, 2017


Residential and Multifamily, Variances & Special Exceptions