2 family used as 1 family - what does this mean?

4 Replies

I'm looking at a multifamily property in Boston, MA and it says "This home is a legal 2-family but used as a single family with a 1 bedroom in law apartment."  When I look the property up on the city of Boston assessing site has it classified as "101 (Residential Property / SINGLE FAM DWELLING)"

I'd like to purchase this property and rent it out as two apartments.  Is there anything I should be aware of, or look out for?  What does it mean its a legal 2-family, but used as a single family? 


Hey @Matt Fitzgerald fellow MA member here (Leominster). The problem is that homeowners dont know what they have and their RE agents dont want to spend time researching so they use the standard disclosure "info gathered by third party...buyer to verify...blah blah...". The house could be zoned for a two family but converted to an inlaw at one point. Alternatively it could have been a two family in the past and zoning may have changed and the owner doesnt realize they lost their two family status. You could make an offer subject to checking w the building dept./code officer About converting to a two family. Good luck. 

@Matt Fitzgerald I just did one in Peabody. Biggest problem was that a lot of work had been done by a well intentioned FireFighter who hadn't pulled any permits. About $15k to correct that work between Plumbing and Electrical.

Then the "In-Law" compliance took awhile.

I like @Rob Beland 's strategy - Get it under agreement with the contingency that "If need be, the property will be Corrected to Code or Costs will be adjusted." or some legal mumbo jumbo to that effect;-)

I'll PM a good local Attorney in our REIA that does this.

If its an easy conversion i don't see the problem. I see a lot of deals like this in reverse. A 1 family being used as a 2 family. That is something to stay clear of. 

If it is not on the town tax rolls as a 2-family you would need to do some research to see if it can be put back as a two family.  We had a house like this in NJ where it was 2- family since it was built and at one point the town made it a one family.  However since even when used as a one family it had all the legal separation when it was discovered the town put it back  as a 2 family -no back taxes.  However the zoning supported it and it was not a grandfathered use.  

We also had a neighbor have their two family status restored prior to purchase but it had to meet current code.

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