Bought as a two family but the city says single

5 Replies

Hi bp experts,

My friend recently purchased a two family house in the union city, nj. When he applied for permit to separate electric panel, the city said it is a single family and gave him violation for the non-conforming unit.

The tax record shows that it is a 2 family and previous owner paid tax as a 2 family for the past 28years.

But the city would not grant it.

If it is the case, whose responsibility is it? The buyer’s attorney? Title company? Buyer’s or seller’s broker? The city?

Thank you in advance for your valuable advices.


The buyer.

@Wayne Brooks Surely this must be someone else's fault... other than the guy who did no zoning research.

Two things. Anytime you purchase in Union City, make sure you fill out an OPRA request with the building department prior to buying. This will give all the details that the building department has on the existing property along with any open permits. Also, anytime you walk through a property take notice to the utilities. If they are set up for a SFR, then odds are - its a SFR with the city, regardless of what the tax records say. This has been my personal experience in Union City. As far as responsibility, its tough to blame anyone. Everyone could've have all the information accurately on their end, its just a "big thing" that fell through the cracks. For future deals though, make sure you emphasize what you plan to do with the property to everyone involved so they do the proper due diligence on the front end to make sure its capable of being done.

I know this probably doesn't give the best solution, but I hope it can help in some way.

@Michael McInerney hi Mike, thanks for your advice. it is my friend's situation and he is in big trouble currently. I think i can happen to anyone but as you said, it is hard to pinpoint who will be liable for this. 

I have few properties in UC as well. have you been ever succesful getting the building description from the building department? I've tried OPRA, phone call, personal visits, but they always say to get a rebuild letter and wouldn't disclose their record. Yet, you can only get the rebuild letter if there is no open permit or violation. It is kind of huge problem investing in UC as most of the houses have open permits/violations and most of the deals are as-is

@Sooyeon Kim I agree 100%.  Investing in Union City can be very difficult and an especially long process.  I was able to get the building description by filling out the OPRA and following up with a few of the building dept associates.  And I had to close out the open permits even though I didn't open them.  

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