Living four to a house? You are in violation of the law if roomies are unrelated Jackson House Buckrail - Jackson Hole, news
While a municipal code may be revisited concerning how many people can rent one place, the Housing Trust is moving along nicely with its work on the Redmond Street Rentals. (JH Community Housing Trust)

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Town of Jackson could be looking at tweaking municipal code that would make it easier for larger homes with multiple bedrooms to be fully rented out.

As it stands today, no more than three unrelated people can cohabitate in the same residence within town limits. It’s a law that doesn’t make sense to some including realtor Stephen “Banjo” Haroian, who, together with Shelter JH launched an online petition to get it changed.

“Let’s bring common sense back into Jackson Hole housing policy” — Stephen Haroian

“I found out about this through a series of unfortunate events,” Haroian said. “I had a client that bought a four-bedroom place and we put four people in there.”

Haroian said his client received a visit from the police department, who informed him of the code. “According to the police, they don’t really enforce this unless there is a complaint,” he added.

Haroian said it seemed like a waste of potential beds to him, especially given the current housing dilemma the community is in. He researched the origin of the ordinance, trying to learn what the intent might have been 24 years ago when it was drafted as an emergency ordinance by the town council in November 1993.

Scott Anderson, a member of the town council when the code was changed from five unrelated members to three, recalled it stemmed from complaints in east Jackson about crowded conditions, limited parking, and rowdy ‘frat house’ behavior in neighborhoods zoned for single-family residences.

“I remember we had a number of complaints from residents in east Jackson about rentals that were over-rented with lots of extra cars and that kind of stuff,” Anderson said. “I don’t know that it was ever actually enforced.”

It apparently was, after the occasional complaint. In 1995, Tom Boogaard was called before the town council for having six unrelated persons renting from him at 30 Stormy Circle after a complaint from Mark Hassler, a neighbor.

In 2006, town officials were compelled to send a letter to property managers, landlords, and real estate firms reminding them of the municipal code outlawing more than three unrelated persons renting a dwelling.

“There is no reason why a four-bedroom place shouldn’t legally be able to hold four people,” Haroian said. “I don’t foresee a lot of pushback on this.”

Haroian posted a heads up in 22 Rents, a Facebook page maintained by Buckrail. He was also contacted by Brenna Cannon of Shelter JH. Haroian was impressed with the organization’s zeal and level of involvement they had already displayed in working on housing solutions. They quickly formed a relationship and, together, have assurances from Mayor Pete Muldoon that he will get a revisit of the code on the agenda sometime early next year.

“When I see a problem I want to fix it,” Haroian said. “Shelter JH has been great to work with. They really care about this community. This seems like an issue that can bring us all together.”