Shawnee law restricting non-family adults living together is upheld in court, opponents plan to appeal

An ordinance restricting what the City Council called co-living in a single family house was upheld recently in Federal Court.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 7:05 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SHAWNEE, Kan. (KCTV) - An ordinance restricting what the City Council called co-living in a single family house was upheld recently in Federal Court.

Co-living is a common tactic to afford housing especially if you’re young. The tactic remains outlawed in Shawnee.

It remains illegal in Shawnee for more than three people who are not related to live under the same roof in a single family residence.

While opponents plan to appeal the motion of this lawsuit, they’re still concerned how this will impact people struggling to afford a home.

Data from RedFin shows houses in Shawnee are averaging just under $400,000 and still in high demand with homes lasting on average just 19 days on the market.

While most rentals are over $1,000 a month, housing activists like Jae Moyer argue this shows people rely on friends at times to afford a place to live.

“We need to make sure that our laws are equitable for everyone,” Moyer said. “There’s absolutely no reason for it to be illegal for me to move in with three of my friends if it’s going to help us share the cost of our rent.”

This ordinance was first passed Shawnee’s City Council unanimously in 2022. Outlawing what’s labeled a single housekeeping unit from having four or more people who aren’t related by marriage or blood living in it.

And in most cases all it takes is one person not related to a family of more than three to make the entire unit in violation of the ordinance.

Some locals argue this isn’t what zoning codes are meant for.

“It’s not based on the square footage of the home, it’s not based on number of bedrooms in the home,” Shawnee resident Lisa Larson-Bunnell told KCTV. “It’s not based on all these other things that would make sense. It’s just based on if people are related.”

In previous City Council meetings, other residents voiced concerns of rental companies buying up homes in neighborhoods and renting out individual rooms that would lead to loud noises and too many cars blocking the street.

Pacific Legal who represents opponents of this ordinance said it will appeal this initial ruling in the 10th Circuit Court. Pacific Legal argues the ordinance oversteps personal livelihoods without solving noise and parking issues.

“It’s in a very strong case the government has no business telling you who you can and can’t invite to live in your home,” David Deerson argued. “They have no  business discriminating against people based on your family relationships.”

The City Manager of Shawnee told KCTV over the phone they’re pleased with the judges ruling but would not comment any further.

To get the latest news sent to your phone, download the KCTV5 News app here.