Single Family House - House Hacking. Legal?

20 Replies

I was told by my agent that you can't have renters in your SFH and I've listened to podcast about people doing it. So is it legal?

Yes, it is legal unless your City has specifically forbid it for some reason. I've never heard of a City outright banning roommates but I have heard of cities that limit the number of occupants in a property, particularly the number of "unrelated" occupants. For example, they don't want five friends renting a 3bedroom home together because that means there are probably five cars (or more) parked on the property, extra visitors, increased likelihood of noise, etc.

Call your city planning and zoning office. Explain what you want to do and they should be able to provide you with a written copy of the applicable laws.

It's legal in most areas but double check with your specific city/township. However, if you're in an HOA there could be clauses that prohibit it. The HOA that I live in now has terms that only allow a house to be rented as a single unit and for a minimum period of 1 year. In other words, you can't rent out bedrooms because then the house is not rented as a single unit.

I had a SFH in Philadelphia that I "house hacked" (I guess that's the term now) for five years. Full mortgage payment was $850 a month and I had two roommates that each paid $525 + utilities. Overall 75% occupancy rate over those 5 years. It was a great experience. I met a lot of good people, some not-so-good people, and learned a lot about humanity & friendship. Plus I basically got paid to live, so win-win!

Good luck. If your realtor is continuing to tell you it isn't legal, I would suggest consulting a different realtor to get their views. 

Hello Ronsted! I would recommend the lenders have their own requirements and after the date minimum occupancy date has gotten by you (usually 12 months) then you can move out, rent the place, and the original loan can stay in place.  Just be able to wait 2 or 3 months for the loan to close if you qualify.  The more you can put down, the better the numbers will look.  Pay attention to that area is in demand for buyers or renters when making your evaluation.  Make sure you can meet your goals and how that may be depending on higher down payments and/or longer amortization period might help you meet your goals.

Good luck to you!

It sounds like your agent isn't very knowledgeable about this sort of thing.  But I do understand they are in the business to sell you a house.  If you live in it I don't see the harm.  Many people househack to help reduce the cost of the mortgage.  Unless you are doing something crazy like cramming 6 people in a 3 bedroom house with extra cars in the driveway or road it shouldn't be an issue.  I only mention that because we had someone here that was fined for that.  But it was 8 cars for this one house.  People constantly arriving and leaving all hours of the day.  

It depends, if you are living there or not and not making a living room into 2 bedrooms.  I know of a person that fell on hard times and moved to mom and dad's 1200SF house and bringing with him a wife and three kids.  

It also helped that the house had a large driveway and in the suburbs.

@Ronsted Yuag there sounds like there may be some kind of restrictive covenants on the deed. Are you in an HOA?

I’ve never heard of any municipality restricting the idea of roommates maybe they restrict the number of roommates but not the idea, Would be difficult to enforce the illegality of the fact that you share your house with one and or two other people. 37% of Americans live with roommates.