Kansas City suburb's ban on having more than three roommates challenged in court

SHAWNEE, Ks. (AP) — A Kansas City suburb's rule prohibiting more than three unrelated roommates from living together is being challenged in court.

A property management company that wants to be able to rent homes to several roommates and a homeowner who said that Shawnee's ban made her living arrangement illegal last year because her son's girlfriend was living with the family at the time filed the lawsuit, according to the Kansas City Star.

The rule that Shawnee passed last year prohibits more than three unrelated people from living together in a single residence. The only exception for more people living together is if they are all related. If even one person in a home isn't related to everyone else in the household, the city considers everyone in the household to be unrelated.

“As Americans, who we choose to live with is none of the government’s business,” David Deerson, attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, said in a news release. “There is a serious housing affordability crisis and Shawnee is making it worse. This unconstitutional ordinance would even outlaw the living arrangement of television’s ‘Golden Girls.’ ”

City officials declined to comment on the lawsuit and said they haven’t yet received a copy of it.

But when Shawnee approved the ban last year, officials said they were trying to eliminate situations where homeowners were treating their homes like apartment buildings and renting rooms to several people.

Critics of the ban said the rule just made it harder for people to afford to live in the upscale suburb.

The company that filed the lawsuit, HomeRoom Inc., said it tries to make housing more affordable by renting homes to people who want to be roommates. After the ban passed, the company said it had to evict some of its tenants at the two homes it owns in Shawnee.