Home Buying in Oakland>Question Details

DR, Home Buyer in Oakland, CA

Oakland: Converting a Duplex to Single Family in Oakland

Asked by DR, Oakland, CA Mon Jul 21, 2008


Does anybody here have experience dealing with the City of Oakland to convert a duplex (upstairs/downstairs) into a single family home? Would you know how much time/paperwork it takes to accomplish this?

I saw a duplex this past weekend at an open house. I would only consider buying it if at some point I could legally convert it to a single family home (no structural changes would be required). Unfortunately, I haven't come across anybody so far who has seen/experienced this kind of thing.

Thanks in advance!

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi there!

Is this the Howe Street listing? I think the process is completely do-able. The home I'm thinking of would be better suited to a single/family. It would be worth a trip to the building department to discuss. They are really nice and helpful. Go in the morning and be ready to wait in line.

I have not been through this process myself, but again I think it can be done. Homeowners are not required to "remain in the landlord business."



2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
Depends on the zoning, if the city would allow issue permit. Updating the tax rolls. A good contractor should be able to assist you with your questions, OR contacting the city. If a real estate agents states anything EVEN if we talked direct on your behalf could be considered as "hear say" .
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
I would consult a land use attorney or architect before committing to the purchase.

Many cities, especially those like Oakland with majority tenant populations, frown upon the consolidation of units because it removes rental housing stock.

The reference below to a conversation with attorneys who say that "the paperwork to take the units off the market is not bad" sounds more like a reference to clearing the building of tenants through the use of the Ellis Act, and not the process of merging existing units. While the Ellis Act may allow you to easily clear a building of tenants, that does not mean the City of Oakland will allow the merger of units.

Good Luck

Jeffery P. Woo, Esq.
Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, LLP
Complex Rental Property Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 31, 2009
Regardless of what you do, make sure you get a permit. Even if no structural changes are required, the City of Oakland, and other cities for that matter, are cracking down on unpermitted work.

Even installing counter tops, putting in new cabinets and replacing appliances will require permits ---- electrical and plumbing if outlets are added, plumbing is rearranged, etc.

When in doubt, just do it. It's not worth the hassle trying to second-guess what needs a permit or not. A
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 22, 2008
I was the realtor who represented the seller in Howe Street listing this past summer in July (if this IS actually the property to which you are referring?) And yes it was originally a SFR, switched to a duplex in the 60's, legally. The process to reverse is doable. My client is currently renting both units but when she returns to the States next summer. we will be re-marketing the property. If you have ANY interest, please be in touch.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
Hello Nicole,

Thanks for replying. I spoked to a couple of lawyers and found the same thing - that the paperwork to take a unit of the market is not bad.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 24, 2008
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