HOA & renting rules

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Barefootgirl
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HOA & renting rules

Post by Barefootgirl » Sat May 06, 2017 7:46 pm

My brother and sister in law experienced a little sticker shock recently when they arrived in the DC/Northern VA area to do some apartment shopping.

Most apartments within a reasonable commuting distance start at around $1,700....but they found something interesting today for $1K.
It is a beautiful huge furnished basement with a private entrance in a suburban McMansion. I am trying to get my head around the HOA rules, but it sounds like renting a room in one's home is not against the rules because although the homeowners are not allowed to subdivide their homes into multi-family dwellings, this basement does not meet the definition of an apartment.

For example, most of these huge homes have a finished basement with a wet bar with a full refrigerator - however, ovens are not allowed to be installed in the basement - which seems to mean that these wet bar/counter/fridge areas are not considered kitchens, so since they are not kitchens, no HOA rules are violated.

My brother told me that the place they like the most has a brand new portable conduction cook top/plug in burner on the counter, along with a convection oven that looks like a microwave, so it has basically all the workings of a regular kitchen, but is not a kitchen because it does not have a regular oven.

I am concerned about them moving in, then getting kicked out due to a nosy neighbor calling the HOA....the homeowner renting this basement claims they have had tenants before without any problems.

Does this seem risky based on what you have seen in your area?
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Dottie57
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Dottie57 » Sat May 06, 2017 7:49 pm

Barefootgirl wrote:My brother and sister in law experienced a little sticker shock recently when they arrived in the DC/Northern VA area to do some apartment shopping.

Most apartments within a reasonable commuting distance start at around $1,700....but they found something interesting today for $1K.
It is a beautiful huge furnished basement with a private entrance in a suburban McMansion. I am trying to get my head around the HOA rules, but it sounds like renting a room in one's home is not against the rules because although the homeowners are not allowed to subdivide their homes into multi-family dwellings, this basement does not meet the definition of an apartment.

For example, most of these huge homes have a finished basement with a wet bar with a full refrigerator - however, ovens are not allowed to be installed in the basement - which seems to mean that these wet bar/counter/fridge areas are not considered kitchens, so since they are not kitchens, no HOA rules are violated.

My brother told me that the place they like the most has a brand new portable conduction cook top/plug in burner on the counter, along with a convection oven that looks like a microwave, so it has basically all the workings of a regular kitchen, but is not a kitchen because it does not have a regular oven.

I am concerned about them moving in, then getting kicked out due to a nosy neighbor calling the HOA....the homeowner renting this basement claims they have had tenants before without any problems.

Does this seem risky based on what you have seen in your area?

It seems like the owners are trying to skirt the rules about multiple families and renting. I would be leery of renting.

tomd37
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by tomd37 » Sat May 06, 2017 8:10 pm

BFGal
Our subdivision HOA CCRs strictly forbid the short-term rental of any portion of your home. The home can be leased for a minimum of six months provided the HOA is advised and a copy of the lease is provided to the HOA Board and property manager. City regulations allow short-term rentals but HOA CCRs override city rules as recently determined in a legal review and $4,000+ fine imposed on a homeowner who refused to stop short-term rentals.
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Nate79
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Nate79 » Sat May 06, 2017 8:15 pm

Sounds like it's the owners problem. How many renters care about some HOA rules?

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ResearchMed
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by ResearchMed » Sat May 06, 2017 8:26 pm

Nate79 wrote:Sounds like it's the owners problem. How many renters care about some HOA rules?
This could become a big problem for everyone.

Our lower level was already finished with a full apartment (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, exterior door) and a huge media/exercise room, when we purchased it.
Great as a Guest Suite.

But before we had the inspection, we had the small and quite old electric oven with double cooktop removed.
Good thing.
The inspector stopped at the open space, nodded, and said, "Good. No oven...." and then explained that we might have had trouble with the financing.
Okay, that's an "owner problem".

But a few years ago, after a major catastrophe elsewhere in the country, we wanted to take in a small family (we've got lots of space, a great school district that we've never used, etc.).
But we wanted to put back a small oven/stove.
Called the town, and they said NO, you aren't zoned for that.
I explained why, and... they said, Well, that's nice. Submit an application for a variance.
How long will that take?
At least 6 months.
So much for the immediate need.

So we called our insurer, figuring, at worst, the town would bust us all and then everyone would be back at the start, with less of an emergency.
But insurance...?

Our insurer said, IF you violate town zoning and there is any homeowners insurance claim, your claim WILL BE DENIED.
It might be similar with HOA regs.

End of story.
Unfortunately.

RM
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btenny
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by btenny » Sat May 06, 2017 10:06 pm

My HOA in Arizona specifically says no rentals less than 6 months in the rules. So no Air Bnb or vacation rentals or anything short term. This caused a major uproar with a home by me. The house sold to a new owners who bought it specifically to use part time and to vacation rent the rest of the time. So they vacation rented it all winter. Then the HOA spend all winter taking pictures and bugging the short term renters and calling meetings and fighting the new owner to get him to stop this short term rental. Our lawyers made him stop. Plus the renters did not like the harassment by the HOA.

In your case I bet the HOA will get very upset if they find out it is rental unit. It is not clear from your descriptions if it is legal or not. So I think they will try to get you moved out irregardless if you rent the basement. So I would be very concerned about renting the unit. Plus why did someone tell you about the HOA rules??

Good Luck.

texasdiver
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by texasdiver » Sat May 06, 2017 10:58 pm

Our house also fits this description and we have a HOA that restricts short term rentals. Like the others, all we are missing is an oven to make our basement into a full size 2 bedroom apartment.

Seems like this situation would invite a clash between two competing sets of laws and regulations:

One the one side, development restrictions and HOA restrictions on short term rentals and subdividing the house.
On the other side, legal protections for renters against eviction.

If the issue came to a head and you had a legal rental agreement or lease, it seems like the law would afford you some protections against eviction. That depends a lot on the state and locality I suspect.

Be curious to hear from attorneys about how that situation would play out.

delamer
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by delamer » Sat May 06, 2017 11:34 pm

Unrelated to the legal issues, I lived in a few basement apartments in my day and the soundproofing between the apartment and the main floor of the house was lousy. Worse than in a regular apartment buidling.

Just something to factor in.

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celia
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by celia » Sun May 07, 2017 2:01 am

We don't have basements around here. But where it snows, does the basement get colder than the rest of the house in the winter?

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tinscale
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by tinscale » Sun May 07, 2017 7:51 am

  • Our single-family HOA requires all occupants to be members of the same housekeeping unit, and the conversion of any space to an apartment or other type of living space is not allowed with HOA approval.
  • There are a bunch of requirements for a code-compliant basement apartment, including fire-rated construction separating the living units, smoke detectors, minimum ceiling height, minimum door and window requirements, minimum ventilation requirements, etc. Does the homeowner have a certificate of occupancy (most likely not).
  • Will an insurance company write a renter’s insurance policy for this?
  • The neighbors will find out.

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dm200
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by dm200 » Sun May 07, 2017 8:17 am

Barefootgirl wrote:My brother and sister in law experienced a little sticker shock recently when they arrived in the DC/Northern VA area to do some apartment shopping.
Most apartments within a reasonable commuting distance start at around $1,700....but they found something interesting today for $1K.
It is a beautiful huge furnished basement with a private entrance in a suburban McMansion. I am trying to get my head around the HOA rules, but it sounds like renting a room in one's home is not against the rules because although the homeowners are not allowed to subdivide their homes into multi-family dwellings, this basement does not meet the definition of an apartment.
For example, most of these huge homes have a finished basement with a wet bar with a full refrigerator - however, ovens are not allowed to be installed in the basement - which seems to mean that these wet bar/counter/fridge areas are not considered kitchens, so since they are not kitchens, no HOA rules are violated.
My brother told me that the place they like the most has a brand new portable conduction cook top/plug in burner on the counter, along with a convection oven that looks like a microwave, so it has basically all the workings of a regular kitchen, but is not a kitchen because it does not have a regular oven.
I am concerned about them moving in, then getting kicked out due to a nosy neighbor calling the HOA....the homeowner renting this basement claims they have had tenants before without any problems.
Does this seem risky based on what you have seen in your area?
1. Is this home located where there is a HOA with power?

2. Is there any reason to believe this would be a violation of anything?

3. This sounds like "sharing a house" and not renting an apartment. In general, "sharing a house" is OK, but renting a separate apartment is not. Sometimes it is what you "call it"

Based on what you post, as well as having done house sharing many years ago, I think this is OK. One "key" (it seems to me) is to not cause any disturbance with the neighbors. If it is clearly sharing the house, it seems they can have no legitimate objection.

WhyNotUs
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun May 07, 2017 8:29 am

relatively common in HCOL areas. As long as you have safe egress and smoke alarms, it is safe. I am assuming that there is off-street parking provided, if not, that can be a source of conflict with neighbors.

The code considers it a second unit if a stove is installed, that is common in many areas. As long as you are not violating occupancy for the number of unrelated adults, then it should be fine.
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Barefootgirl
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Barefootgirl » Sun May 07, 2017 8:29 am

They are seeking a 12 month lease, if that seems to make a difference. There is one L shaped huge driveway, so there is off street parking for them.

Their concern is getting all settled in, then being forced out due to the homeowner getting caught up in a violation issue.
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Youngblood
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Youngblood » Sun May 07, 2017 8:42 am

Barefootgirl wrote:They are seeking a 12 month lease, if that seems to make a difference. There is one L shaped huge driveway, so there is off street parking for them.

Their concern is getting all settled in, then being forced out due to the homeowner getting caught up in a violation issue.
Perhaps your brother and sister-in-law could add something to the lease that if forced to move (probably not likely within the 12 months) due to any HOA violations by the owner some monetary consequence to help them with the expense of a forced move.
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Watty
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Watty » Sun May 07, 2017 9:00 am

One other potential issue is that true apartments likely have higher building code and inspection requirements for safety, like having multiple exits in case of a fire. If I remember right a large enough window that can be opened might be considered an alternate exit.

Even for a non-rental finishing a basement with a sleeping area can be tricky if you get all the right inspections and building permits.

I would be concerned that the place could be less safe than if they were dealing with a landlord who is not trying to skirt rules.

Boats day
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Boats day » Sun May 07, 2017 2:14 pm

I think I would be inclined to rent it.
In this sharing Economy it is a very common practice. Just include in lease that owner will refund security deposit and rent if hoa forces eviction.

The HOA would go after owner with fines and Lein on property For any violation of HOA rules.

Sounds like a great place to live at below market rent.

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Pajamas
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Pajamas » Sun May 07, 2017 2:24 pm

The HOA should be their least concern vs. the city or county zoning and building inspectors, fire marshal, etc. The portable cooktop and oven are a red flag that the apartment may be illegal. Tenants in illegal apartments and especially illegal basement apartments get evicted on a regular basis. The eviction does not necessarily follow the usual drawn-out process. One call can result in a padlock on the door the same day.

littlebird
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by littlebird » Sun May 07, 2017 4:43 pm

dm200 wrote:1. Is this home located where there is a HOA with power?

2. Is there any reason to believe this would be a violation of anything?

3. This sounds like "sharing a house" and not renting an apartment. In general, "sharing a house" is OK, but renting a separate apartment is not. Sometimes it is what you "call it"

Based on what you post, as well as having done house sharing many years ago, I think this is OK. One "key" (it seems to me) is to not cause any disturbance with the neighbors. If it is clearly sharing the house, it seems they can have no legitimate objection.
People can call anything by any name they choose, but the difference between "sharing a house" and renting an apartment is that when you share a house you share the kitchen. When you rent an apartment, you have your own kitchen. That's why there's no real oven/range. This is a zoning/health regulation issue. The HOA rules are secondary, but may trigger a call to municipal/county officials.

Another issue is whether there's running water elsewhere than the bathroom. Using a bathroom sink for kitchen water purposes is a cause of hepatitis A, and diarrheal diseases among other things. One of my family members contracted hep A when visiting a young couple in an illegal apartment in Boston. There are sound reasons for these zoning and health regulations, but like vaccines, they've been around so long many living people no longer know what those reasons are.

Saving$
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Saving$ » Sun May 07, 2017 9:37 pm

In my area, it constitutes sharing if you are regularly sharing a portion of the house. People usually share the garage and the laundry area.

As long as the extra people in the house are not causing a disturbance, and generally have off street parking, this SHOULD not be a problem. I know perfectly well that people make it a problem, but I'm not sure why. More people who live there coming and going makes the neighborhood safer.

For those concerned about fire code, if there are legal bedrooms, is the place inherently more safe if the owner lets his/her sibling and spouse live in it than if the owner gets some rental income from strangers?

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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by 8foot7 » Mon May 08, 2017 8:57 am

littlebird wrote: People can call anything by any name they choose, but the difference between "sharing a house" and renting an apartment is that when you share a house you share the kitchen. When you rent an apartment, you have your own kitchen. That's why there's no real oven/range. This is a zoning/health regulation issue. The HOA rules are secondary, but may trigger a call to municipal/county officials.
This is the first time I have ever heard of that specific distinction.

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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Carefreeap » Tue May 09, 2017 4:23 pm

btenny wrote:My HOA in Arizona specifically says no rentals less than 6 months in the rules. So no Air Bnb or vacation rentals or anything short term. This caused a major uproar with a home by me. The house sold to a new owners who bought it specifically to use part time and to vacation rent the rest of the time. So they vacation rented it all winter. Then the HOA spend all winter taking pictures and bugging the short term renters and calling meetings and fighting the new owner to get him to stop this short term rental. Our lawyers made him stop. Plus the renters did not like the harassment by the HOA.

In your case I bet the HOA will get very upset if they find out it is rental unit. It is not clear from your descriptions if it is legal or not. So I think they will try to get you moved out irregardless if you rent the basement. So I would be very concerned about renting the unit. Plus why did someone tell you about the HOA rules??

Good Luck.
We have an interesting situation with the HOA for my mother's condo (near the beach in San Diego). The HOA changed the rules to limit rentals for six months or more about four years ago. However a subsequent law was passed in the California legislature that stated if a unit was owned prior to the HOA change of rules for short-term rentals that the owner could continue to short term rent their unit.

The HOA sued one owner of a vacation rental. The basis for that lawsuit was that the owners were not paying the "move-in, move-out" fees of $300 each time a tenant used the property to move in and out. They arrived at some kind of settlement and I'm unsure of whether the owners have continued to rent the property as a short term rental. During peak summer season they could probably get $4k/week which is what a year round monthly rate would be.

Lars_2013
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Lars_2013 » Tue May 09, 2017 6:53 pm

Many of my friends in the DC area live in basement apartments, in-law units, etc. As long as it's safe from a fire perspective (multiple exits, wiring to the kitchen area is proper, etc) and it has light (useful for avoiding depression) I would rent it.

Compared to the situation of my friends in more expensive towns who live in converted sheds and illegal warehouse conversions, a finished walk-out basement seems like a dream.

Let the landlord worry about the HOA. Worst case scenario, the renters have to move after a couple months of saving $700/month plus utilities cost.

Ostentatious
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by Ostentatious » Tue May 09, 2017 7:08 pm

Seems like you're being over concerned. I have seen many people rent basements in the general area you're referring to. It all depends on the effectiveness of the HOA. Most HOAs in the area are not concerned about this issue. They are most likely concerned about other bigger issues.

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dm200
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by dm200 » Wed May 10, 2017 7:52 am

Ostentatious wrote:Seems like you're being over concerned. I have seen many people rent basements in the general area you're referring to. It all depends on the effectiveness of the HOA. Most HOAs in the area are not concerned about this issue. They are most likely concerned about other bigger issues.
I agree.

Just don't get into a parking dispute with neighbors.

dbr
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by dbr » Wed May 10, 2017 8:15 am

It seems to me that people pointing out the larger issues with zoning and insurance are raising the greater concern than one has with any HOA.

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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by taguscove » Wed May 10, 2017 8:26 am

Boats day wrote:I think I would be inclined to rent it.
In this sharing Economy it is a very common practice. Just include in lease that owner will refund security deposit and rent if hoa forces eviction.

The HOA would go after owner with fines and Lein on property For any violation of HOA rules.

Sounds like a great place to live at below market rent.
Completely agree with this. As long as there are safe fire exits, seems like an excellent way to get below market rents.

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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by freebeer » Wed May 10, 2017 8:35 am

dm200 wrote:
Ostentatious wrote:Seems like you're being over concerned. I have seen many people rent basements in the general area you're referring to. It all depends on the effectiveness of the HOA. Most HOAs in the area are not concerned about this issue. They are most likely concerned about other bigger issues.
I agree.

Just don't get into a parking dispute with neighbors.
This. If no parking disputes (e.g. habitual parking in front of neighbor's house in an obtrusive manner), chances of anyone escalating to HOA are low, and chances of HOA unilaterally getting involved even lower.

But at the end of the day, TANSFAAFL. It is not lower-than-market rent, it is rent that is depressed, in part, by it not necessarily being a fully legit separate apartment. Do they want low rent with that hypothetical risk of having to move, or not? That is a question only they can answer. But at the end of the day the owner will be taking the bulk of that risk not the tenant who worst case simply has to move sometime down the road (as they might have to for other reasons, for example suppose the owner needs MIL for their actual mother-in-law, or decides to push the envelope on rent).

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dm200
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Re: HOA & renting rules

Post by dm200 » Wed May 10, 2017 8:41 am

freebeer wrote:
dm200 wrote:
Ostentatious wrote:Seems like you're being over concerned. I have seen many people rent basements in the general area you're referring to. It all depends on the effectiveness of the HOA. Most HOAs in the area are not concerned about this issue. They are most likely concerned about other bigger issues.
I agree.
Just don't get into a parking dispute with neighbors.
This. If no parking disputes (e.g. habitual parking in front of neighbor's house in an obtrusive manner), chances of anyone escalating to HOA are low, and chances of HOA unilaterally getting involved even lower.
But at the end of the day, TANSFAAFL. It is not lower-than-market rent, it is rent that is depressed, in part, by it not necessarily being a fully legit separate apartment. Do they want low rent with that hypothetical risk of having to move, or not? That is a question only they can answer. But at the end of the day the owner will be taking the bulk of that risk not the tenant who worst case simply has to move sometime down the road (as they might have to for other reasons, for example suppose the owner needs MIL for their actual mother-in-law, or decides to push the envelope on rent).
I have never been in this HOA situation, but several friends and acquaintances have been in such HOAs. From what they relate, disputes about parking spaces (depending on the nature of the housing) seems to be the most common source of nasty disputes.

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