SHAWNEE, Kan. — The Shawnee City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance to change the city code related to room rentals in residential zoning districts.

In March, the planning commission began discussions on a new trend of single-family homes being bought and converted into rental units with multiple, unrelated tenants.

City staff said in these housing arrangements, home tenants have secured access to their room and lease agreements of various lengths, making it difficult for the city to determine how many people are living in the home at a given time. 

To address the issue, the planning commission recommended 8-0 that the council adopt new language within the city code to focus on individual room rentals.

One of the changes rewrites city zoning to define “family” for single-family homes. The code now defines a family as a group of one or more related people living together or fewer than three unrelated adults living together in a single-family home. 

Any group of four or more unrelated adults living together in a home would be considered a co-living group.

Community Development Director Doug Allmon said the new code would prohibit co-living houses and rooming houses in all city zoning districts except for planned unit development (PUDMR), but that could be prohibited through zoning. 

“As this is set up, it is [in] every district, including our residential high-rise apartment district,” Allmon said. 

The amended city code also expands the definition of a single housekeeping unit as a group of people that live in a home with a common kitchen and share household responsibilities. That means a group of three unrelated adults living together would need to live together as a household.