General Landlording & Rental Properties

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3 kitchens, 3 sep. entrances, 2 living rooms but zoned RS10 :(

Posted May 23 2022, 14:46

hey all! First post on here! 

I'm a landlord in Nashville and bought my new home last July. I've been making amazing money renting both my home and rental property out to a bunch of single guys and doing individual leases w/o any codes issues yet. Planning on hiring a property manager as it's been more than I want to handle anymore. With my new place it's got 3 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 3 separate entrances, is 2,250 sq.ft and just 10 minutes south of downtown. The problem is that I just checked Nashville's parcel website and see that the house is zoned RS10 (single family). People have shared that it would very likely be a long and drawn out process that probably wouldn't get approved anyways to try to get it zoned as a duplex or ideally, a triplex despite being the perfect layout for this. 

A few things that are top of mind I'd like to get some answers on here as I decide with my property manager how we move forward...

-Assuming it must legally be a triplex in order to rent it out to 3 groups that do not know each other? 

-Nashville has this code (though must be antiquated since sooo many college students/young professionals rent houses together w/3+ people in the house) that states...Section 16.24.400—Occupancy Limits..."No more than three unrelated adults can occupy a dwelling unit. This regulation applies to all dwelling units, no matter how many bedrooms the dwelling unit may have." Curious if anyone at all has heard of codes actually enforcing this and a legitimate work around besides just hoping for the best. This code would be the other problem if leaving it zoned as RS10 resulting in the only option being to rent out to 1 family but I don't know of any families needing 3 kitchens, etc., etc.!!

Please help! Thank you!!!

Nashville, Tennessee

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Luka Milicevic
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Nashville, TN
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Luka Milicevic
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Nashville, TN
Replied May 23 2022, 19:47

@Alex Craft

To be honest, for someone to answer these questions for you would put a lot of liability on them.

You are correct in reading into occupancy limits.

I'm curious, did you get financing for this property? If so, did the lender have an issue with the fact that it's non conforming? The appraiser would have said something is my guess...

Did you check the notes on the parcel viewer history to see if any of the work done to the house was permitted? 

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Replied May 24 2022, 03:19
I'm also curious on how it's currently financed.

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Replied May 24 2022, 08:40

@Luka Milicevic

My thought is that literally thousands (and thousands) of owners/landlords in Nashville have 3+unrelated people renting their property so wouldn't it be discriminatory to only go after some and not all? Does codes actually enforce this as I've only heard hearsay of consequences and nothing concrete? 

Definitely financing this property and my rental as well. Non-conforming..not familiar with that? I checked parcel history and last permit mentioned there was "GAS / MECH PERMIT - VC MC" back in 1997. I see no permit for what I was told was once the garage and is now a livable space..maybe never was an actual garage but isn't conditioned so it makes sense that at some point it was converted from garage to a "livable space". My friend I purchased the house from last July said, "I did not get any permits when I did the work on the side apartment because I understood it to be the case that a homeowner is allowed to do work on his property without getting a permit." True or false? Maybe at some time this was true but now isn't? I believe that it was already a "livable space" when he bought it Feb. 2019 but he remodeled to make it look much nicer (put in a kitchen, bathroom, washer/dryer and closet).

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Replied Jun 21 2022, 08:35

As an RS10 Owner I find this interesting. Mine is currently my home but I do have an unfinished basement I have been tempted to build out. I do wonder if as time goes on RS10 will be rezoned for R10. My home was once zoned R10 and there are many properties on my block that have multiple units that must have been built before the switch/grandfathered in. 

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Ronny Varghese
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Ronny Varghese
Replied Jun 27 2022, 09:37

As an agent that deals primarily in the investment space, i can tell you nobody is walking around asking for ID's of your tenants to see if they are related or not. 

Property managers here just care about ... property management - not zoning laws. Not legal advice by any means, lol, but it is not something that requires everybody who works in the city to give you a head nodd approval. Just make sure your neighbors are happy and the tenants are respectful / clean and not pissing people off. If something was setup a current way and you've been able to maximize it's benefit by renting them out room by room, the cops wont get called on you. I personally know too many people to count that do this. Not a big deal... and if the PM has issue with it, I have a great PM i can refer you that is Nashville based (as am I).

Cheers and congrats on your early success in the game my friend

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Colleen F.
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Colleen F.
  • Investor
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Replied Jun 27 2022, 13:22

@Alex Craft  I can tell you how unrelated person ordinances work here. If someone makes a complaint the building inspector will visit the property and make a judgement. You are supposed to have the lease posted in the unit.   I think all the people who have been cited in town were by neighbor complaints usually related to noise.  So if you don't get a noisy crew you will be ok. 

Now our fire inspector in another town has asked for stoves to be removed if a house is a SF you can't have a stove in an in law suite.  That was usually when there was construction on a unit.  Many older homes in some areas had two kitchens for a single family. It was something families did back in the day. 

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Drew Sygit#3 Managing Your Property Contributor
  • Property Manager
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Drew Sygit#3 Managing Your Property Contributor
  • Property Manager
  • Birmingham, MI
Replied Jun 28 2022, 04:05

@Alex Craft Most municipalities allow an owner to pull their own permits when making improvements to their primary residence. This is NOT to be confused with not having to pull permits.

Cautionary tale, know two people here in Detroit area that bought unlicensed duplexes, similar to your tri-plex situation, and were eventually forced by the local municipalities to convert them to one-family residences.

Other thought, why don't you live in this property and STR the two other units? A lot of potential income!