Property zoned for 2 but operated as 3 for 19 years

5 Replies

Here in Michigan, I've ran into an issue of a 2 unit that has been functioning as a 3 unit for 19 years. It has separate meters. I bought this spring, and began renovating. When I went to rent, several neighbors called the City and reported me.

They claimed I am devaluing their property values. Not remotely the case because of my investment then raising rents $500 / unit. I also refused to accept Section 8. They also made comments I will rent to dozens of people, or rent to someone and allow their "nephew" to attend school in the district.

Another person said it wasn't fair for me to make more money than them and I just bought there.

This property sat for at least 3 years with several blight violations, that I have addressed. It appears several neighbors have started a whisper campaign and are now using the local building enforcement to stop me from renting period. I told the building inspectors I have no issues bringing things up to code, but I find the property owners concern around my new property disingenuous considering how long the property operated as 3 units, had 3 meters, and the numerous violations that were unaddressed. This property sat on the market 5 years, and several people tried to buy it, but we were willing to pay more money to the seller. I estimate hundreds of people had been inside the property between all the sales attempts. I know several neighbors were aware on the interior condition.

Based on length of operations can I request a variance? Its obviously was operated as a 3 unit and zoned a 2 unit. But going on 19 years, I was able to verify with records from energy company, this is surely a grandfathered issue.

Recently we rehabbed a 3 unit to a 2 unit on DIckerson. We got rental cert and lead cert as well. All were passed and complete. Right before the city was to issue us the rental license for the property they called me and told me all of my inspections were null and void. They said I had to pull a permit to convert from a 3 to a 2. Then repay for the inspections again..

Point is you should contact the building department directly and get it in stone before you move forward with another penny of your time. The city has been very inadequate in accommodating the investors. Which is funny because with out us they will never improve any of these areas.

Originally posted by @David Rabior :

Recently we rehabbed a 3 unit to a 2 unit on DIckerson. We got rental cert and lead cert as well. All were passed and complete. Right before the city was to issue us the rental license for the property they called me and told me all of my inspections were null and void. They said I had to pull a permit to convert from a 3 to a 2. Then repay for the inspections again..

Point is you should contact the building department directly and get it in stone before you move forward with another penny of your time. The city has been very inadequate in accommodating the investors. Which is funny because with out us they will never improve any of these areas.

 This happened outside the city of Detroit

Typically, they couldn’t have had the third electric meter installed if there wasn’t a certificate of occupancy issued for the third unit.....so it would be logical to assume it was allowed at that time.  As long as it was legal When the third unit was added, it is grandfathered in, along with the restrictions that come with that.  But if it Wasn’t legal when done then just “time” doesn’t legally grandfather it in.