Convert old house to SRO in Los Angeles?

8 Replies

Hi all,

If somebody wanted to convert an old house into an SRO for flight attendants (near LAX) by putting in bunk beds, etc. is that legal? Are there restrictions as to what can be converted to an SRO, or zoning issues? It is in a quiet residential neighborhood and there aren't any other ones in the area.

Thank you!

I'd consider this a grey area. But that's based on personal experience of encountering a lot of Angelenos getting away with a lot more zoning violations than they probably should - take it with a grain of salt.

Is it legal to rent a SFR room-by-room? In most cases, the answer is yes (the grey area is whether or not you want to disclose anything more than this to other parties).

But, according to the LA Zoning and Planning code, you may actually be wanting to convert the home into a "boarding or rooming house" which would require that the residence be zoned as such.

Here's their definition of a boarding/rooming house:

A dwelling containing a single dwelling unit and not more than five guest rooms or suites of rooms, where lodging is provided with or without meals, for compensation.

@Ben Wakefield "crash pads" as many flight attendants call them... You'll find them all around Westchester, Palms, Mar Vista, Inglewood, and other areas around LAX.

As @Joshua McGinnis points out, many landlords get away operating in grey areas of LA zoning laws, similar to Airbnb, but this risk should be understood and addressed by all investors before taking on the challenge.

Many avoid attempting to get a zoning change for such a small project (assuming SFR locations), and rather sign master leases with one or several flight attendant tenants, then allow them to sublet with landlord approval.

Best of luck,

A

Thanks for the advice and resources, @Allan Glass and @Joshua McGinnis ! I'm a bit gunshy regarding a grey area so early in my career, so I might avoid this one... I think the guy I spoke to wanted to actually have them in one room with bunk beds instead of each "tenant" having a room in this SFH, which seems like it should be illegal.

Doesn't feel right. Probably not going to do it. :) I appreciate the responses.

Are you looking at the same house I was looking at this morning? The great old house with 6BDRs and 4 baths and a 2BDR back unit on W 35th? It's already under contract but I had lots of ideas for that one. :)

@Account Closed I think he said he was looking at a place over in LAX.

But are you talking about the yellow short sale multi that's been on the market for about a year near USC? If so, I was so about to start doing due diligence on that place before it went under contract. I went there last week to look at it, but someone had broken the lock box and so all entrances had been chained and we couldn't get in to see it. I wonder if that's the same one.

Nope it's a different one. :) Wow 6 bedrooms! According to the zoning doc that @Joshua McGinnis posted, any number people over 5 in a single family dwelling (that aren't related) requires it to be re-zoned as a boarding house, and if there are more than 6 "guest rooms", as a hotel.

Originally posted by @Ben Wakefield :
Nope it's a different one. :) Wow 6 bedrooms! According to the zoning doc that @Joshua McGinnis posted, any number people over 5 in a single family dwelling (that aren't related) requires it to be re-zoned as a boarding house, and if there are more than 6 "guest rooms", as a hotel.

Not that you're going to dive into this topic but........ There is actually some CA case law that came out of Santa Barbara several years ago having to do with munis imposing codes that limit the number of "unrelated" people living in an SFH. It focused on a group of people (tenants) who had been living as roommates in a large Victorian. If I remember it correctly, it basically said the muni couldn't dictate who was "family" and/or "related" or demand such a relationship of people living together. I'll have to look that one up again.

Originally posted by @Joshua McGinnis :
@K. Marie Poe I think he said he was looking at a place over in LAX.

But are you talking about the yellow short sale multi that's been on the market for about a year near USC? If so, I was so about to start doing due diligence on that place before it went under contract. I went there last week to look at it, but someone had broken the lock box and so all entrances had been chained and we couldn't get in to see it. I wonder if that's the same one.

Yup. That's the one. I got totally sidetracked today when I was researching the property across the street from the property for sale (which is the mailing address for the owner of a Central Valley property I'm trying to track down). The listing I saw said the property is under contract, and taking back-up offers. I didn't research whether or not it was a short sale or what was going on with it. The asking was $399K. The property looked liked it had lots of possibilities for cash flow. Just my opinion, of course.

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