Home Buying in Germantown>Question Details

Abi, Both Buyer and Seller in 19118

Multifamily house in single family zone.

Asked by Abi, 19118 Mon Oct 14, 2013

I was looking some multifamily(2-4 unit) hoses on trend located on Germantown and Mt Airy, They are zoned in R5(As per my knowledge its single family).

Is it legal to rented multifamily house in R5/R2 zone. Is it safe to buy these houses for rental investment?


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James G Brophy’s answer
Sometimes you cannot fully establish the present zoning usage from various record source so the agreement to purchase is structured so that you enter the intended zoning = 2 fam, three fam etc. Then if after a contract were accepted is would be subject to determining what the current zoning use actually is and if it is not what you preferred in the written contract you can end the sale agreement.. Often a residential property has been issued zoning variance for multi fam use but record research may or may not be acurate, expecially in Phila records. Usually the public record will say something like "converted to apt use, etc" In addition, if you were to putchase a mlti family dwelling the seller would have to provide a Use&Occupancy certificate that states the present use is legal. Also, the lending bank appraisal will require the same proof that the usage is permitted by zoning etc. Sometimes you have a situation where a single fam dwelling has legally been approved for change to 2 fam dwelling and later on a seller has changed it into a 3 or more dwelling but never received zoning approval. If the City becomes aware they will make them cease the illegal usage but the occurance of this same situation happining in Phila was not too uncommon in the past. Zoning enforcement and bank lending and appraisal requirements have pretty much forced those conversions to conform or revert back to allowable usage but there may still some long time ownership situation that has been flying under the radar in zoning violation?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 15, 2013
You need to check to see if they have a city Housing inspection License ( Rental License) if so then they are legal or save $100 and go down to MSB in the Basement to L&I and check the zoneing yourself.

Philip Cunningham
V.I.P. Realty Corp
7942 Bustleton Ave
Philadelphia,PA 19152
215-725-5700 X49 cell 267-934-1971
Web Reference: http://WWW.GreatPaRE.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 4, 2013
Abi,You have to buy a city cert for $100 to find out if it correctly zoned. If you buy a property not zoned correctly, you can not evict the tenant. I would not buy an illegally zoned property unless it is the deal of the century.
Michael P. Cohen ABR ASR, SFR
Michael P Cohen & Company
Associate Broker
RE/MAX Access
1033 N. 2nd Street 5Th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Direct Line: 610-642-0347
Office: 215-400-2615
Greenfax: 610-680-3688
Cell: 610-331-7213
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 3, 2013
The zoning code has changed Please call me in my office so I may check the locations for the proper use there are more requirements for zoning changes with the new code. my office number is 215-725-5700 X49

Philip J. Cunningham Sr.
V.I.P. Realty Corporation
7942 Bustleton Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19152
215-725-5700X49 cell 267-934-1971
Web Reference: http://www.GreatPaRE.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 15, 2013
You may be able to obtain a zoning variance from the Department of Licensing and Inspections in order to use a single family home and a multifamily property. I work with a lot of real estate investors and am very familiar with zoning ordinances. I would be able to assist you better if you gave me the zip codes and/or property addresses for the houses that you are interested in. Feel free to email me or call me with that information. I'd be glad to assist you. Thanks! -Jo

Jo Major
Keller Williams Realty Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 15, 2013
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