90 yr old Non-conforming multi-family

4 Replies

Hello, I'm lost and need some guidance. I'm considering a 2 story SFR with a mother-in-law at the basement level, in Seattle. The SFR was converted to a triplex and is on a fairly major cross-street with other apartments. The present owner successfully added 3 electric meters some years back and has been renting the upper two levels, keeping the lower level for herself. The home is about 100 years old in a mixed-use area, but it is zoned SFR. So, there are 3 levels with separate entrances, separate electric, common water, no gas to the house. The city and county records show it as a triplex with best use as a triplex, but zones as SFR. I had 2 appraisals done and one appraiser did not care. The other rejected the appraisal saying he called the city and the structure is a SFR converted without permits to a triplex - date of conversion unknown . The price is attractive for the area but we are worried about the city telling us we can't use it as a triplex, which is hte only way it pays for itself. Given they allowed 3 meters sometime back, and we don;t know about the grandfathering, but we know there are no permits for the work and the work, when done years ago. Then again, we are not sure how many years back the work was done and if it is grandfathered and we have no idea how to figure that out. Any advice on this situation is appreciated.

Construction permits are issued by the city building department and electrical permits are issued by Labor and Industry. It is possible to have electrical work done and permitted without the rest of the job, ie. separate entrances and the change to multi use permitted. It may have been permitted and the zoning not changed, however verification will have to be part of your due diligence.

Meet with the City of Seattle DPD. They can provide guidance and clarify the status of the property.  

I can also do some research on the property.  Feel free to reach out!

Originally posted by @Adrian Chu :

Meet with the City of Seattle DPD. They can provide guidance and clarify the status of the property.  

Precisely. Based on my experiences, I'd just meet with the City. If you get lucky, you'll get someone who is very helpful. Get what you can in writing. Whatever you can't get in writing, write up yourself and email notes back to the City as, "this is what I understood from our discussion, please tell me if I'm wrong." Having worked with several cities (including Seattle), unless they specifically ask, I would not volunteer a lot of information about what you plan to do with the property. There is a decent chance they will treat you better as an future resident (who'd rent out the MIL + other unit) versus an absentee landlord.

"Danger, Danger, Will Robinson"  Be very careful.

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