Frequently Asked Questions

Boarding/Rooming/Shared Single-Family Housing

What is a single-family house?

A house designed to be occupied by one family related by blood, or no more than four unrelated adults. In these houses all residents have access to all rooms and all areas of the house. No areas are partitioned off or locked from other residents of the house. The zoning code notes that certain structural features are evidence that a house is not used by a “family,” as legally defined. These features include multiple mail boxes on the house or property, locked doors or partitions that divide the building into separate living spaces, separate electric meters, separate exterior doors into living areas, or locks on bedroom doors that prevent access when the bedroom is not occupied.

What is a boarding or rooming house?

A residential building originally built as a single-family house that has been modified, expanded, reconfigured or reconstructed to have one or more separate living units.

What's the difference between a boarding and a rooming house?

A boarding house is occupied by the owner, who rents out rooms. Zoning regulations allow up to eight boarders. Rooming houses do not have the owner living in the building.

How many unrelated people may occupy a single family house?

Within residential districts zoned for single-family houses, no more than four unrelated adults age 18 or older (plus their children) may occupy a single-family house.

Do the new rules apply to houses that have been subdivided into apartments?

Zoning regulations for RS districts already prohibit houses that have been subdivided into apartments. The new rules do not apply to them because they are already illegal.

What districts are zoned for single family houses?

Any zoning district that begins with an “RS,” including RS-5, RS-7, RS-9, RS-12, RS-15, RS-20, RS-30 and RS-40. These are districts set up exclusively for single-family homes. Other zoning districts allow a mix of housing.

What is the RSQ district?

A district set up for residential buildings ranging from single-family houses to quadraplexes (buildings with four dwelling units).

Where are converted residential houses allowed?

Boarding and rooming houses are allowed in all multi-family residential districts as well as all other districts that allow a mix of residential and commercial uses.

How do I find out the block and lot number, zoning and census tract of my property?

If you have access to the Internet, go to Enter the address of the building, and click on “Search.” The block and lot number of the property will be listed at the top. Scroll down and the zoning and census tract will be listed at the bottom. You can also call the Inspections Division at 727-2628.

What happens if I don't register?

Your property will be out of compliance as of Jan. 2, 2009, and will be subject to civil penalties of up to $100 a day or criminal prosecution in Forsyth County Superior Court.

What happens if I register my property and don’t convert my property by Jan. 1, 2012?

Your property will be out of compliance and will be subject to civil penalties of up to $100 a day or criminal prosecution in Forsyth County Superior Court.

How can do I bring my property into compliance with zoning regulations?

  • If you have a boarding or rooming house, you can either convert it back to a single-family house or have the zoning for your property changed to a zoning district that allows boarding and rooming houses. If the zoning change is not allowed, you will have to convert it back to a single-family house. (Note: If a zoning change is approved, the house will be brought up to current fire and building codes.)
  • If you own a shared single-family house, the number of occupants must be reduced to no more than four unrelated persons 18 years or older (and their children), or you may seek a zoning change as noted above.

Will I be reimbursed for the cost of turning my building back into a house for a single family?

No. The deadline for complying with the revised law gives owners time to recoup the cost of compliance.



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