In the city of Los Angeles, unpermitted guesthouses and garage conversions are on just about every block. Some more obvious than others, all unpermitted additions/changes must have architectural plans and permits in order to be legal.
Many clients who engage work with Windrich did not do the work or even know unpermitted construction existed until they were cited by the Los Angeles Building & Safety Department. Windrich suggests pulling a property’s building records pre-purchase to cover you and/or your family of the liabilities which might cost you thousands of dollars to legalize. Legalizing a garage conversion could mean restoring the room back into a garage. Legalizing an unpermitted guesthouse could mean restoring back to its original permitted use or worse, demolition.
The problem for most current homeowners with unpermitted guesthouses or garage conversions is the possibility of losing space they consider part of their home or an income-producing supplement of their livelihood (renting). In order to find out what can be done to keep the existing unpermitted construction and use(s), due diligence must take place. All zoning, parking, setback, height and lot size requirements must be met. In addition, your property might be subject to special conditions that limit the amount of change that can be legally made.
Do You Have a Guesthouse or Garage Conversion?
For your unpermitted guesthouse and garage conversion identification needs, call Windrich and ask to speak with a representative about our Property Analysis Report services. Our company not only concentrates on correcting an issue, we look at what further can be expanded upon. Whether you can add a second-story, third-story or an addition, it is all included in the report.
Tip: All changes to a property over the amount of $300.00 needs permits
Tip: Systematic Code Enforcement is currently working to inspect all single family residences by 2010.
Addressing Unpermitted Construction
When you own a property and are informed by a city official or another person about unpermitted construction, it’s crucial to pause and thoroughly examine the issue. The key step is to verify whether the work in question is indeed new or simply a modification of existing structures. This involves a detailed comparison of the current state of your building to its original design. New additions often have distinct characteristics, especially in buildings constructed in the 1940s, 50s, or 60s, which typically exhibit different framing components and finishing techniques compared to more recent constructions.
Closely inspecting the work can reveal significant details. By examining the specific nature of the installation, you can identify whether it’s a new addition or an original structure with altered finishes. Buildings and their construction methods are often straightforward; they do not disguise their true nature. A thorough examination, possibly with a magnifying glass, can usually lead to accurate conclusions.
Be aware that building officials may sometimes mistakenly identify construction as unpermitted based on superficial differences in finishes. If an inspector claims that a certain partition or structure in your building is unpermitted, a viable approach is to obtain the building’s records and verify whether the questioned structure was essential to the original construction, for instance, in supporting the ceiling or defining a room. Consistency in materials and dimensions with the original building can be a strong indicator of legitimacy.
In conclusion, while building officials’ assessments are valuable, they are not infallible. It’s important not to argue with an inspector on-site to avoid confrontation. Instead, seek the truth through building records and material analysis. If the investigation proves consistency or discrepancy in the construction, you can then address the issue accordingly. Remember, buildings can’t lie; their physical attributes often reveal the truth about their construction history.
Navigating the Complexities of an Unpermitted Guesthouse
The issue of unpermitted units is particularly critical for those in the rental business. It’s essential to ascertain the legality of a unit before renting it out. The urgency stems from the fact that federal, state, and city laws strictly prohibit renting unpermitted units. If you, as a landlord, rent out a part of a building as a unit without the necessary permits or registration, you could face serious legal consequences.
The ramifications of renting an unpermitted unit can be severe. If discovered, you may be obligated to refund all the rent received from the tenant and potentially cover their relocation expenses, which can be substantial. To avoid these risks, the first step for anyone interested in purchasing a property with rental units is to thoroughly review all building records. Confirm that each unit is legally recognized and permissible to rent. It’s crucial to understand that not every space classified as a guest room, accessory, studio, or similar is legally rentable. Local government laws and regulations will dictate which spaces are rentable and which are not.
If you’re contemplating renting out any part of your building, it’s imperative to verify that the space is legally recognized as a habitable unit. This includes conversions of garages, storage areas, attics, or basements. These spaces must be legally deemed habitable before being offered for rent.
While renting out part of your building might seem financially attractive, and the tenant might find the arrangement suitable or even economical, it’s advisable to proceed with caution. In the event of an incident or inspection revealing the lack of necessary permits for the rented space, you could face significant financial penalties. It’s always better to ensure compliance with all legal requirements before entering into any rental agreements.