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Illegal Rentals: Single Family Landlord Be Aware!

Basement apartments have become a popular solution to overcome the shortage of  affordable rental units in areas around Natick, Massachusetts while at the same time increasing profitability for the single family home investor.  However, to be considered legal, a basement apartment must meet certain criteria including (but not limited to) minimum ceiling height, a certain number of windows and exits, and possibly even having dedicated utility meters.  The same considerations are applied to an in-law suite, even to house family members under casual agreement.  Additional considerations might be the availability of parking, proper refuse removal for all residents, and a host of other matters.  One violation can lead to further scrutiny, and ultimately result in a tainted reputation for you as a single family home rental business person .

Renting out an illegal apartment makes you liable for financial and legal penalties. You will likely be required to evict your resident and could be faced with paying a substantial fine or two. Additionally, you may even be ordered to pay for your resident’s relocation expenses, as well as any damages they might claim.  Beyond these expenses there is the strain between you and your tenants, especially if they are family.  Your losses could be considerable.

If you think you might combine utilities with the primary residence by charging a flat monthly fee, think again.   Tenants, or even family members, who do not see a bill will most probably not manage their usage responsibly, leaving you to pay higher bills than you anticipated.  That’s your first problem..Secondly, if  the tenants are responsible for negligence and/or damage, you may have little or no legal recourse.  Even further, you will not have the ability to even threaten to shut off utilities if things are really going south between you and your tenants.   Courts are unlikely to award you, as a landlord, any damage claims or even may dismiss claims concerning litigious renters, especially if your rental property is illegal to begin with.

Real Property Management Metro Boston can help you examine your options for increasing the profitability of your single family rental property. We have property management professionals who understand zoning ordinances and can assist you in navigating the ins and outs of understanding the nuances of rental properties. Our staff can assist you in best practice approaches in dealing with local zoning boards, your residents, and in positioning yourself for an optimal financial return.  Contact us!

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