Single Family Home with Mother-In-Law Suite?

2 Replies

Hi there! Newbie from Sarasota, FL! I am in the process of looking at properties on the MLS and visiting neighborhoods and seeing what's out there, as I want to purchase a multifamily and live in one while renting out the others.

Thing is, what's in my price range multifamily-wise, that I've been seeing, either are 1) not in a part of town I'm fond of and wouldn't want to live there myself, or 2) looks like it's a pretty hefty repair job. I'm not opposed to doing some work and/or having work done, but I didn't want anything outlandish.

My ideal scenario was to purchase a triplex or a fourplex. But I haven't been seeing anything that really stands out or that I get excited about. And it's highly possible the right deal just hasn't come up yet. I'm in no rush for the right first deal. But out of curiosity, I glanced at some single family homes and found several of them that had mother in law suites (private entrance, bathroom, kitchen, etc.). And they looked like potential was there.

My question is, with a mother-in-law suite, how much different is it than an actual duplex, other than the fact that there is a door connecting the two of them? Are there specific zoning laws that would be a hindrance? How would a lease work? Would it work more like renting out a bedroom (which is what I really DON'T want to do, as I don't want to share any living areas, lol), a whole separate apartment, or is there some different method altogether?

I am still just looking at all of my options. With a SFH with a mother-in-law suite, I think it would limit my exit strategy a bit, because I'd think it would be difficult to move out in a year or two and then rent out the main house to someone else, knowing that the mother-in-law suite is occupied by complete strangers. Haha.

Thanks for any info you can provide! 

@Shawn Wade   I am assuming it varies a little bit by state but where I am at they can be considered the same thing and meet rental housing code as long as the passthrough door is steel and is a dual locking door meaning it is a key lock on both sides.  I would check with the city if you can convert a single family home into a duplex but in most cases there is no problem because 1-4 units is still considered residential.  At the same time you may want to see if you can create a new address for the extra unit you are creating.  The lease can be tricky because you likely do not have split utilities so I would probably just have a new meter put in or if they unit is very small I would include utilities.  You can try a prorated rent, but I've had mixed advice and results in regards to his.  You can also consider airbnb or home away rentals.  

It really depends on the situation not all mother in law suites have a connecting door to the main house.  Also it will depend on the laws in your area whether or not you can rent the mother in law suite and the main house to two different tenants or not.  Also you need to make sure that the mother in law suite has all of the essentials to make it livable without someone having to come into the main house (ie kitchen, bathroom, separate entrance etc.)

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