I keep encountering people who bought a property thinking that it was a duplex or a triplex. And later learned hard way that in reality the City sees it as a single family.
If you are looking at a MF property in Philadelphia, make sure that before closing on the deal you get city certification with the stated current use of the property. The use should be Two-family dwelling or Three-family dwelling. Also check eclipse for rental license records. The property must have a rental license that was active within last 2 years for the number of units that correspondents to the use. You can search for rental license here: https://eclipse.phila.gov/phillylmsprod/pub/lms/Default.aspx?PossePresentation=BusinessLicenseSearchByLocRent&IconName=Contract_Mag.png
Otherwise, you may be looking at a protectional zoning board hearing and obtaining variance, certificate of occupancy and more documents to make it legal and have proper rental license.
You can also check quick zoning guide here: https://www.phila.gov/documents/zoning-code-information-manual-quick-guide/
However, zoning doesn’t always = current use. You need to check before buying. You can have a property that is zoned as a SF with use as a MF and vice versa.
@Yuriy Skripnichenko always providing very important info. Thanks! Based on your experience, do you see many buyers intending to purchase a SFH with plans to convert into a MFH? Not sure if this is allowed in Philly. If so, are you familiar with the process?
It depends on the zoning of the property. If it is zoned as a single family you will need to obtain a variation to use as something else.
However, if it has a proper zoning, you may be able to have your MF use by right.
Always do your due diligence before buying to make sure it is something you can chew.
What did you mean by proper zoning?
By proper zoning I mean when zoning corresponds to the use or desired use of the property.