Local Leaders Crack Down on House Occupancy

Knoxville (WVLT) - Refining the rules of home occupancy. Knoxville City Council tries to clear up the confusion to cut back on problems.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel has the newest guidelines.

It really all depends on each situation, but as a general rule: If there are multiple families or individuals with no blood relation -- there could be a problem. So the question is how many people can live in one home without breaking the law?

Knoxville City Council answers that question as they amend the city code. Neighbors sound off about why they support that amendment.

"There should be a limit to what, how many lives in a house, you know, for safety reasons, for fire hazards," resident Faye Summitt said.

Dozens of people living under one roof... unrelated. It's becoming a problem in some Knoxville neighborhoods and now city council is doing something about it.

"There are a lot of changing values in our community and a lot of those changes have not been very valuable to our single family homeowners," city councilwoman Barbara Pelot said.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, city leaders approved an ordinance that sets limitations on how many people can live under one roof.

"Would you want to live next door to that?" Whitney asked.

"Absolutely not because all the clutter and all the stuff that's around in the yard, and there's no telling how many people live in the house," Summitt and Lisa Turner said.

Lisa Turner and Faye Summitt say certain limitations should be in place, but some case-by-case scenarios are acceptable.

"I know that there was a lot of people come here for Katrina, and I know a lot of people took other people in," Summitt said.

"There shouldn't be a problem with grandparents, aunts, uncles or someone that's elderly or somebody that can't take care of themselves that they're trying to help out," Turner said.

City Council agrees. They're cracking down on dwellings with dozens of people who are unrelated, but with this new rule, homeowners want their neighbors held accountable.

"Let's just not set something and never go back and look at it," Summitt said.

"That would be the Codes Department's responsibility. We've discussed that with MPC, the Codes Department is very aware that we need some stepped up enforcement," Pelot said.

In order to come up with the guidelines and enforce them, city leaders formed a task force. It's made up of neighborhood leaders, the Metropolitan Planning Commission director and others. They hope this will help solve a lot of problems some Knoxville neighborhoods have been having.