Cobb County GA basement rental

20 Replies

I have recently been looking into properties in Marietta, GA. My family and I are considering relocating to that area. If we do end up going that route, I was thinking it might be a good idea to rent out the basement and live in the main house (house hack).

I did some Google searching to see what a basement might rent for in that area, however, I was having a hard time finding any listed anywhere. I found this odd, so I decided to call Cobb County and they advised that a basement can only be rented by one adult with some kind of square footage per person limitation, and I could not wall off the basement door. The tenant would have to have “access” to the upstairs area. I’m not sure it that means that I can’t restrict their access to upstairs or that I just had to have a door there.

When I asked the rep why there weren't any basements for rent on the MLS he couldn't really give me an answer.

This was a bit of a let down hearing all of this, since there don’t seem to be many duplexes or front houses with in-law suites that would serve the same purpose.

Is there something I’m missing? Has anyone ever dealt with basement rentals in that area?

Hi @Bobby Valcin , what you're describing is exactly what I'm currently in the middle of doing!  I bought a house in Marietta that had a full finished basement, but no kitchen.  So I've put a kitchen in and am hoping to rent it out as my first house hack.  I've not looked at what I could get for rent ahead of time, like you have, but it's a large apartment with 1 bedroom, 2 other rooms (office plus bonus room, etc) plus a brand new open concept kitchen, with its own separate entrance and garage access.  So I'm going to just see what the top dollar rents are for that and go from there.  I am hoping that it will basically pay for my mortgage on it.

 I'm hoping to have it rented in the next couple of months. I'll let you know how it goes, but if you don't hear from me, feel free to reach back out!

@Tracy R. Thanks for chiming in. I hope things work out well for you. Have you heard about anything in relation to what I mentioned about the limitations on a basement rental?

Hi @Bobby Valcin , sorry for the late reply, I've been crazy busy trying to get my rental ready!  

I also called Cobb County about the rental possibility, and they did tell me about the square footage requirement (sorry I can't remember what it was per person, but mine is 1,200 SF so I'm way over what they said it had to be per person).  

I was also told that the basement apartment could only have 1 person in it (1 person unrelated to the owners living upstairs).  I wasn't told anything about them having to have access to the upstairs, but perhaps that's because mine has a separate downstairs entry for the apartment, and I might have said that upfront.  I suspect that you might have been told that (about not walling-off the door between up and down) because if they don't have a way out from downstairs, in the event of a fire, they have to be able to get out.  Or, it's possible that the tenant has to have TWO ways to get out, one from their downstairs entrance, and another from the upstairs door.  Now that I'm thinking about this, I need to call them back myself and get a full understanding for my own situation!

In general, when I've called Cobb County, I've found it really depends on who you talk to, some of the people there are knowledgeable and helpful and some really don't have a clue and are not very customer-service-oriented.  To give them credit, there are so many rules and regs for any county, it's impossible for the one person you happen to get on the phone to know everything.

So just to be on the safe side, you probably should give them a call again to get some clarity on ALL of the requirements for renting out a basement apartment.  And if you feel like the person is not fully answering your question, just keep going up the chain, asking nicely for their supervisor, etc.  

On why there aren't more of these types of apartments listed for rent, I suspect that it just happens more under the radar, vs being listed on the MLS. No surprise that the Cobb County employee didn't have a clue about that.

I'll keep you posted on what I find out too, after I call them back.  Good luck!

@Tracy R. Thank you, Tracy. Very helpful. I will definitely need to make another call to confirm.

How are things progressing with the work on the house?

@Bobby Valcin , renovations are done!  I just have a few more little touches to do and then I'm going to activate it through in January.  

I've never used before, but it sounds like a lot of the investors in the area use it to list their properties, screen tenants, collect rents, etc.  It's free for landlords to use.  Here's a link to the listing so far (I just put in $1,000 rent as a placeholder, I believe it would rent for a lot more than that, but I'm honestly not sure how much, I am going to ask some other landlords in the area before I activate it)!/...    let me know if you can see this, it's the first time I've tried to "share" it.

Originally posted by @Tracy R. :

@Bobby Valcin, renovations are done!  I just have a few more little touches to do and then I'm going to activate it through in January.  

I've never used before, but it sounds like a lot of the investors in the area use it to list their properties, screen tenants, collect rents, etc.  It's free for landlords to use.  Here's a link to the listing so far (I just put in $1,000 rent as a placeholder, I believe it would rent for a lot more than that, but I'm honestly not sure how much, I am going to ask some other landlords in the area before I activate it)!/...    let me know if you can see this, it's the first time I've tried to "share" it.

Tracy, I'm glad the project is close to 100%. $1000 in rent sounds great for a one-bedroom (i'm assuming it's a one-bedroom). When I clicked the link it said 'Sorry, this listing is no longer active on Cozy'.

So I guess you can't see a listing that's not yet active.  I'll send it to you once it is active.  I actually think I could get closer to $1,500/mo for this one  because it's so nicely finished, and also has 2 additional finished rooms that could be office and storage space/dressing room.  it also has its own private laundry room too.  Have a great holiday and I'll pick back up with you on this in Jan!

@Tracy R. I must say, I’m impressed. I may reach out to you to do my rehab! Did you do everything yourself?

Can you really rent a one bedroom for $1700? Have you had any inquires yet?

Hey @Bobby Valcin , no I didn't do it myself, I hired a contractor in my real estate investing group.  I have only had one inquiry from FB asking if it was still available.  And then nothing more after I said it was.  

I know that what I'm asking is high for a 1 bedroom, but it's really large (1,200 SF), and has 2 extra rooms (altho they shouldn't be bedrooms because no windows).  Plus covered garage parking and all utilities included.  But, it's possible that I have misjudged even buying this house and all I can get is $850 or something, because in the end it's still a 1 bedroom.  

So now I'm worried that I've gone to this huge expense, and no takers.  Ugggh.  I'm not sure what to do now!  I have it on Cozy, Trulia,, Realtor, Zillow, and a travelling nurses site.  

I'm not sure what to do, so I think I'm going to put out a query on BP and see if there's any other advice.  I might have to drop the price significantly to get interest.  Something for you to keep in mind going forward with your plans

hey @Bobby Valcin , so I asked the people in the local RE investing group for help here, and they all said it's just too high a rental price, so I need to drop it.  and get professional photos.  I have that scheduled for this Friday.  It's still not a total loss though, I'm still going to get most of my expenses paid on it, just not all of them now.  Lesson learned, no matter how much extra space there is, if it's still a 1/1, I can't get significantly higher rent from it.

@Tracy R. Sorry it took so long to reply. I'm glad you have a good outlook on it. Did they say what it would actually rent for at the REIA meeting? I would probably try to compare it to other remodeled one bedrooms in the area.

Hey @Bobby Valcin , yes I got feedback from the group and they said it's looking like $1,100/mo is the max I can get for a 1/1 in the area.  (I initially thought it was a 3/1 when I bought it, and stupidly didn't realize there were no windows in 2 of the "bedrooms", so they're not bedrooms.  Plus, there's really only comfortable parking for 1 extra car.  It's really hard to compare with other rentals in houses in the area, there really aren't any that I can tell are as nice as this one w a new kitchen, etc.

The REI group also suggested to offer the utilities (already set up for the whole house) at an additional flat fee. So I went with $185 for that. I'm also going to do it furnished, since I have extra furniture I'm moving from my current house this Friday. So I think I could get maybe $1,200 rent + $185 utilities = $1,385/mo. I would be very happy with that! My mortgage, taxes, interest, and insurance is a bit over $1,400, so it's almost living for free, I'll take it.

After I did the revision on the monthly rent + utilities, I got about 8 inquiries, 2 of which said they wanted to see it but never showed up!   so I did get more interest from lowering the price, but the quality of people was also lower, as expected, I guess.

After a few days of those initial tire-kickers, yesterday, I think the right person is coming today to look at it.  He's got a new job, 2 weeks in the area, and is currently in an Airbnb, but wants to find an apt.  He's totally willing to go on and fill out the application, once he sees the apt (and hopefully likes it), so maybe he's the one.  You only need one, right?

the saga continues, I'll keep you posted.  

@Tracy R. I appreciate you taking the time to keep me in the loop. If you could generate enough income to where you are living free that would be so great. Those numbers would be exactly what I'm looking to accomplish. Keep me posted. Hopefully, the person you mentioned ends up being a taker. 

hey @Bobby Valcin , well, it turns out that person acted like they were interested, but never filled out the application I have on Cozy.  So, scratch that one, on to the next!  I'm moving furniture in there next week, so it's going to be a furnished apt now.  (hopefully I can get a bit more$$, and a higher quality tenant that way).  I've heard from other people in the group that you might get one good person out of 30 that write with interest.  So, it's a numbers game like anything else.  That's ok, I would rather wait for a good one and weed out the others.  I'm def getting more interest with the lower rent offer, but even though it's clearly a 1/1, I had people asking about it today that were 3 roommates.  I just wrote them back and said it's not going to work for 3 people.  I'm told that you do have to be careful about how you say that, you can't say it in a way that sounds like it's discriminating.  In my case, it's totally not discriminating, it's only 1 legal bedroom, so only right for a single person or a couple.  But people are so litigious, so I'm just trying to be very honest and clear upfront.  

@Tracy R. Just remember that renting it furnished will significantly limit amount of people that will be interested. I don’t say that to discourage you, that is based on my experience doing property management for the last five years.

good point @Bobby Valcin .  If I got someone who checks out and wants it unfurnished, I also have a plan for that:  it's a 1 bedroom, but there are 2 bonus rooms in the apartment and I'm pretty sure I could get most (if not all) of the furniture in there, and then leave the bedroom, and living/dining room unfurnished.  It's just that I'm not getting any interest in it unfurnished anyway, so I thought I might as well try.  But since you've mentioned this, I will make sure to note in the listing that it's shown furnished, but can be provided unfurnished if desired.  Thank you!

@Tracy R. Good stuff. Hopefully it rents soon. I’m counting on you to make this work so I can replicate what you are doing, lol.

Hey @Bobby Valcin , things are looking up, a guy looked at the apt yesterday, and seemed to like it.  He is actually in another type of apartment situation in a house, but it's got some shared quarters.  So he understands the living situation, that it's in a house, and not an apt complex, but he's excited about having the whole separate apartment to himself.  Let's see if he fills out an application!  He was also fine with the rent and flat fee for utilities, since it's around what he's currently paying.  So, I think I'm finally priced right now!  It's now been 6 weeks since I first listed it, so if I had been smarter and not priced it too high to begin with, I could probably have had it rented now.  But even then, if it takes 8 weeks from start to finish, with my learning curve in between, I'll take it!

The other thing I wanted to mention is that I'm telling everyone who expresses interest to call me, no texting, no just showing up.  They have to have a conversation with me first.  That weeds out a lot of tire kickers too, I think.

@Tracy R. Good to hear Tracy. That is a good way to weed people out for sure. If they are too lazy to call you then they probably aren’t truly interested. Hopefully that person pans out.

Quick question. Did you decide not to list it with an agent to avoid paying the commissions?

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