Illegal Boarding House vs Roommates

7 Replies

Would it be legal to add roommates on the lease so I avoid calling my house as "Illegal Boarding House"? Hi guys- You will probably find my question silly or weurd but it is my first post on BiggerPockets and you guys are awesome! I'm sure someone would advise me on it.

We are 4 friends that we know each other since we were kids. The West new York, NJ town, building department recently told me that I can't rent out my rooms to anybody even if I own the house and I can't make individual leases for rooms as well. My question is how can I make it legal and live together with the people I want?

1) Can I prepare a lease on my own house and add each one of them on the lease?
2) I have 5 rooms. Does it mean I can have 5 beds in each room? What makes a room legally a bedroom to sleep? 70 squarefeet per person?
3) If I don't take money from my friends, would it still be considered as rooming house?

People live in same house for years and town doesn't make problem. Why would it be an issue to live with the friends?

@Onur Ozdemir Chances are slim they will do something about it. There is too much going on for a building department to be directly focused on what you’re doing. Unless, your neighbors complain to them. (So treat your neighbors nicely or they’ll blow you in) Code enforcement aren’t the police but they aren’t the kind of people you want to mess with either. So if they come back, make sure you tell them the truth...not the whole truth but the truth. Let them fill in the gaps.

It doesn't matter if you agree with the law or not. The right thing to do is learn the law and then obey it.

The building department said you cannot rent out the rooms or make individual leases for the rooms, therefore you shouldn't do it.

If you want to know what you legally can do, call the building department and ask them.

Many areas are running into those problems, and it's a two edged sword. You don't want the Building Department controlling your property more than they already do. They in turn have a hard time defining a family, due to the various living arrangements these days. The term "unrelated" means what? By blood? Because there are plenty of people that aren't related by blood or marriage, etc. living together, and thus related by relationships. 

In your case, why don't all of you "share the rent" so that you aren't renting out bedroom space? 

I've gone through all of this with the Building Department on a larger scale. I'd leased out my house to a Christian ministry group that had 14 people living in the house. It was a big house, and it worked. However; the County said I was running an illegal Bed and Breakfast (I wasn't)  becasue the group would advertise on airbnb to rent out the beds when students were on long missions, etc. It cost me a lot of money to straighten it all out. 

At the same time, it's understandable why people moving into what they think is a standard subdivision with kids for their kids to play with etc. are upset finding out several houses are being rented as boarding homes, all the tenants are adults, traffic and parking is a nightmare. 

@Karen Margrave the term "unrelated" means there is nothing binding the individuals together. People are related by blood, marriage, adoption, or other legal means. Unrelated would be a couple friends, a boyfriend-girlfriend, two people that work together, etc. Because they are not tied together legally, they are less likely to stay together during times of difficulty.

I remember your story about the kids renting your country home. Didn't that end badly?