Accessory dwelling unit, unpermitted - questions

4 Replies

Hi all, my bf has a 4 bd single family home. We had been, until last month, renting rooms individually to professionals/college students since purchase. We'd like to not have 'roommates' anymore, so made the decision to wall off one of the doors and create a 2nd unit. The unit will be a 1bd/1ba, more similar in size/structure to an in-law unit (will have kitchenette & living space, separate bedroom, full bath, small yard & separate entrance). The living space and bathroom were unpermitted additions when my bf bought the home - this was not remedied with the city/county, so subsequent upgrades (minor - new windows, moving some outlets, removing a wall, etc) were also not permitted. 

I am wondering about implications making the home into 2 units as we are not permitting it. The door we will wall off will be able to be removed - we aren't removing the door itself. We will be installing a sink in one of the 'bedrooms', but no range, w/d hookups, furnace, etc. so when we eventually want to sell, those items can be easily removed.

Rentals are currently in huge demand in our area - we had a catastrophic wildfire about 10-15 mi from our home and people are desperate for housing, but I am becoming concerned as I've seen people recommending lying about ESAs to get their pets in rentals (we have 2 dogs already and wont accept pets), people reporting rental listings to the AG if they think the price is too high (gouging), along with the general worry over destructive/abusive/etc tenants. We've never used a management company before, but are seriously considering it now.

We are already too far in the process to stop and we are hoping to be ready by 12/1. Just looking for some general tips and implications that we need to consider before going forward with deciding on a tenant. We are in Sonoma County of California, if that helps.

Thank you!

You either contact the city inspector housing division to see if your zoned and can legally turn the house into this. You'd also need to notify your insurance company of this also I would guess.. If owner occupied you may have more chance of approval than if non owner occupied. 

Or you punt do the work, rent it out and find out your in violation of housing code. 

I'm not sure how the code works in your jurisdiction but I believe if you have an interior door between the two units (that can just always stay locked for your sake) you can still lease all the rooms or your home as room by room rental agreement and the house is still considered a signle family home. Hopefully you can just sweep the complication and regarding the  additions under the rug as it was unpermitted when you bought the home you could simply play dumb. 

Wall off the doorway with a insulated door and deadbolt and some insulation strip furthee sound deadening instead of drywall?

Hi @Natalia Katoaka ! I'm a little late in seeing this post, sorry about that. I know you were hoping to be completed by 12/1 so I'm a day behind that but hopefully have a bit of info that can help you. It sounds more like you have created a junior accessory dwelling unit which is a bit different than an accessory dwelling unit in the terms of size, juniors are no larger than 500 sq feet and is created using an existing bedroom. These are relatively easy to get approved for, if you would like to just have the peace of mind. They are typically done over the counter at the County Permits department and typically only need building permit. Junior units are not separate dwelling units and don’t require building or fire code upgrades or separate utility connections. 

As far as renting to tenants, just go with who you feel would best fit. Ask for references and credit reports. Be firm on your rules, such as no dogs, and have a solid rental contract put in place. Also, just a side note, majority of the "price gouging" cases that have been reported to the DA have been dismissed. So as long as you are staying within 10% of the average rental price you will be just fine. If I can answer any questions or help you in any way, please let me know. I'm in Sonoma.

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