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Ask Michael Lykken, Esq Your Own Question
Michael Lykken, Esq
Michael Lykken, Esq,
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 85
Experience:  Partner at Soares & Lykken, Attorneys at Law
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Ok I bought a house 3 years ago in back the house in the

Customer Question

ok I bought a house 3 years ago in back the house in the back yard there was another building about 300 sf I added another 150 two years ago and painted it now I want to connect it to my sewer and put toilet in there and make it low key unit back there how does that work with permit and stuff I don't think I have permit for building but its been there for more than twenty years how does that work? if I lived in that and rented out front would there be anything neighbor county could do ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I am a California attorney. First off, what is the current setup of the unit? Does it have a kitchen, or is it simply a shell? Second, when you bought the house what were you told about the unit? If it was unpermitted that would have to have been disclosed to you. If you want to convert it to a rental, you would most likely have to get a building permit to install the toilet and hook it up to the sewer. I don't know if you could find a plumbing company that would do this without a permit. There are also legal minimums that have to be in a rental unit in California, so if you don't have those legal minimums the tenant could have the rent reduced or removed completely.

If you lived in the unit and rented your house out, the actions of the county would depend on the condition of the unit. They could condemn it, but since you own the property it would hard for me to see a situation in which they prevented you from living in it other than a case in which the condition of the building is bad enough to warrant condemnation.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

ya ok I figured that if I lived in it but how bout if I went for a permit or what would I tell them I wanted it for? and would they regulate my structure or ?couldn't they just say no or how that work casue I was goinna do work my self its easy to connect sewer without them knowing casue I can connect it to my house

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

as of right now doesn't have kitchen or toilet basically 500 square foot shell painted everything looks fine from outside just have to put couple windows

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

and yes they did say wasn't permitted but been there for 20 plus years and they didn't ask me to condemn it or tear it down?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

well know I think about it had a sink and refridgerator in before I tore it all out cause It was junk

Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your clarifications. I'm about to step into a meeting, so I'll get back to you later tonight

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

k sound good thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

so what you think?

Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Okay, so if you do the work yourself and connect it to the sewer system, you could set yourself up for later problems depending on the condition of the property and whether you meet all of the legal requirements necessary for a rental. If you had a problem with the tenant the tenant could argue that the property was not habitable, which is a defense to a failure to pay rent. In that case the court would determine what the fair rent is.

If you apply for a permit, the inspector will inspect the entire unit. This could be a good thing if it was built properly, or it could result in an order to perform work in order for it to pass inspection. If you rented it and then the inspector came for an inspection, I don't think they would tear it down unless it was in really bad condition. They could require that you stop renting it out, though.

So, it is really up to you how you proceed with it. There are a lot of unpermitted structures in California, but there is also more liability and risk that comes with renting an unpermitted unit.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

you think they would allow the permit? so in theory the best would be I live in it cause there no risk involved if I went the route of no permit. plus if I lived in it how could they ever prove I live in it? I mean I could sleep anywhere on my property right

Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Because I haven't seen your property, it is difficult to say whether it could be permitted without work being done to it. You could live in it, or you could rent it out without being permitted. If you are going to rent it out you need to make sure that you meet the legal requirements for a rental. The state has a good website for landlord-tenant issues, and the page dealing with habitability is here: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/legal_guides/lt-8.shtml

The problem that could arise is if you had a problem with a tenant in the unit. If the unit isn't habitable, you could be forced to pay back rent you took in. Because of costs, a lot of people don't have these units inspected. I don't know the condition of you unit, so only you could decide if you want to pursue that route. In order to rent the unit, it has to be habitable, which means that it has to be fit to live in. That determination doesn't turn on whether the property is permitted.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

ya I would live in it or only rent out to a real good friend where there would be no paper trail to prove I was renting it so in that case there nothing anyone could do as long as it don't look like crap which it doesn't and its look same outside for over couple years so? and im going connect toilet to sewer line without anyone one nowing other than that put shower and kitchen sink in the there sheet rock an insultation and that it should be fine right?

Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

You could do that and live in it; however, you would really want to make sure that you have the minimum requirements to be habitable met if you are going to rent it. That at least would prevent you from having to pay back rent if any thing happened and you ended up in court.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

k sound good thanks for help.

Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

My pleasure, have a good day.

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