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Occupancy and Overcrowding

Occupancy & Overcrowding

Too many people in a residence creates safety issues and overstresses community infrastructure like schools, roads/traffic and water/sewer systems.  State and County Codes have specific criteria for what can be called "over occupancy."  Property Code Enforcement in PWC's Neighborhood Services Division is responsible for enforcing occupancy and overcrowding regulations. 
Why Overcrowding Matters 
Overcrowding of homes can potentially result in serious health problems or injury.  For example, if a fire breaks out in an overcrowded home, it is less likely that everyone will be able to exit and this creates a serious safety concern.

What is Allowed:

The Virginia Maintenance Code and the Zoning Ordinance of Prince William County govern occupancy issues in residences.  The Zoning Ordinance allows for the following:

  • One (1) person or two (2) or more persons related by blood or marriage with any number of offspring, foster children, step children or adopted children subject to the maximum occupancy limitations (see the chart below) and not to exceed two (2) roomers or boarders; or

  • Two (2) single parents or guardians with their dependent children including offspring, foster children, step children or adopted children living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit; or

  • A group of not more than three (3) persons not related by blood or marriage living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit. 
The zoning ordinance also establishes maximum occupancy.  The maximum occupancy of a single family dwelling is calculated from the total finished area of the home (plus finished basement area) as it is listed in the County's residential property records.
     For a dwelling with a total finished area Number of adult occupants
     of up to 1000 square feet


     from 1001 to 1500 square feet


     from 1501 to 2000 square feet


     from 2001 to 2500 square feet


     from 2501 to 3000 square feet


     from 3001 to 3500 square feet


     from 3501 to 4000 square feet


     over 4000 square feet



Additionally the Uniform Statewide Building Code requires that sleeping areas designated for one person are at minimum 70 square feet and two or more persons require 50 square feet minimum per person. There are other requirements for living and dining space, location of bathrooms etc. Contact Property Code Enforcement at 703-792-7018 for more detail and explanation.


If you have observed a situation that is in violation of the provisions of the Code please contact Neighborhood Services at 703-792-7018 or use the online form. You will be contacted to provide additional information that will assist Property Code Inspectors in their investigation.


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