12-28-2010 12:26 PM
Long time reader, first time question asker:
I came across a property in San Mateo county that is a duplex with two small units. Both units are adjoined and set up as individual rental units. Each unit has individual gas meters, water/electricity bills and both are vacant. Is it possible to legally convert the duplex into a single family home? The taxes on the property is very high currently as it's considered an income generator. Thank you in advance for any information/thoughts provided.
12-29-2010 10:24 AM
My sincere apologies for horning in on your thread, but I am very curious about your question, which I know very little about. Having said that I am also very curious about the exact opposite process as well your question and was hoping to have people who know respond to both issues. I would have started my own thread but didn't want to seem like I was mocking you as well as not wanting to clutter up the boards with basically what I presume is a similiar process. TIA to those who can enlighten us.
12-29-2010 10:57 AM
Converting a duplex into a SFH is not hard in terms of permits. It's a lot harder to go the other way.
Duplex to SFH
-rip out extra kitchen
-connect the two former units with an internal staircase
-have pg&e get the extra meter and record the change
-get a certificate from the city that the property has changed
Adding a unit is much harder. For permits, you have to go through a lot of zoning issues.
You have to run seperate gas lines and divide the electrical into two panels. ETC
Property taxes are based on sale price of the house. I'm not aware of a tax for having a duplex
12-29-2010 07:03 PM
There's other things to consider in coverting to a duplex:
Firewalls between the units for one.... zoning or a variance (if a SFR neighborhood). The plumbing may be inadequate (both sewer and supply from the street). The two electric meters, but also splitting the panels inside the house - which may require upgraded service (100 amp to 200 amp). Fire doors (depending on how you access the two units - by a common exterior door or?). Dual heat and cooling sources. Gas lines may not have adequate volume for supporting two complete households (heat, cooking, dryer, etc.). The water, sewer, and gas - if inadequate - require new connections at the street. That gets into tearing into the street (and paying for repairs to said street), hookup permits and fees, not to mention the lines from the structure to the utility.
Reversing a duplex is much, much easier. The only thing you may be stuck with is an awkward floorplan, facade, or issues with load bearing wall removal/modifications between the units. This, of course, would only probably apply to a structure that was originally designed as a duplex. If it was a conversion, many of those issues might be moot.
12-30-2010 12:37 PM
Are there currently tenants in the two units? I believe but would like to know for sure if there can be "tenant rights" issues with this type of conversion.
I don't know your county at all but I think that some California municipalities make it very difficult to evict a tenant who pays regularly on a month to month tenancy. In fact, I've heard that some areas, like Berkeley and in the south, Santa Monica, make it difficult to evict even if the tenant doesn't pay his rent.