Buying a two-family house can be a great way to generate rental income and build wealth.
But before you make an offer, you need to make sure that the house is legal and complies with the local zoning and building codes.
Otherwise, you could face fines, lawsuits, or even eviction.
In this article, we will explain how to find out if a house is a legal two-family and what steps you need to take if it is not.
We will also recommend some of the best books for multifamily investing that can help you learn more about this strategy and how to succeed with it.
A legal two-family house is a property that consists of two separate living units, each with its own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and entrance.
The property must be zoned for two-family use and have the necessary permits and certificates of occupancy from the local authorities.
A legal two-family house is different from an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), which is an additional living space that may be attached or detached from the main house but is not considered a separate unit.
An ADU may or may not be allowed depending on the zoning and regulations of your area.
The first step to finding out if a house is a legal two-family is to check the zoning of the property.
You can do this by contacting the local planning or zoning department or by looking up the property on an online zoning map.
You need to find out if the property is zoned for single-family or multifamily use, and if there are any restrictions or requirements for converting or maintaining a two-family house.
The second step is to check the building records of the property.
You can do this by contacting the local building department or by searching for the property on an online database.
You need to find out if the property has the proper permits and inspections for adding or modifying a second unit, and if it has a valid certificate of occupancy for both units.
The third step is to verify the information with the seller or the listing agent.
You can do this by asking for copies of the relevant documents, such as the zoning certificate, the building permit, the inspection report, and the certificate of occupancy.
You can also ask for proof of rental income, such as lease agreements, rent receipts, or tax returns.
If you find out that the house is not a legal two-family, you have several options.
You can walk away from the deal, negotiate a lower price, or try to legalize the second unit yourself.
However, be aware that legalizing a second unit can be costly and time-consuming, and may not be possible depending on the zoning and regulations of your area.