Jena Zellar, Home Buyer in California

Hi , Can a room without an closet be called an bedroom in california?Some real estate agents are advertising it as a bedroom without closet ?legal?

Asked by Jena Zellar, California Sat Feb 26, 2011

is it legal to call a room bedroom with out a closet/

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Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Tue Mar 1, 2011
Agents don't determine if a room is a bedroom. When they upload information on the MLS, they may go by what the county records show, or they enter on the MLS remarks the county records may be incorrrect. And if the county records are inaccurate, it's up to the property owner to initiate the process to make the change. When owners apply for the change, someone from the County will visit the property to confirm and validate the change.

Your best bet is to check the California Building Code, or your local county/city codes.

For example, here's one such definition from my city of Alameda.

It says that the California Building Code (CBC) does not define what is a bedroom, but it does provide a series of code requirements for "sleeping rooms"

Note the last line of this document: "CLOSETS ARE NOT REQUIRED."
2 votes
Meena Gujral, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Tue Mar 1, 2011
My understanding was that in order to be considered a bedroom, the room should have a door, a closet and a window. You may want to call the City and confirm with them.

Meena Gujral
2 votes
Don Hester, Other Pro, Wenatchee, WA
Sun May 1, 2016
Bedrooms or sleeping areas by building code do not require a closet unless the local municipalities require it by amendment or their local codes.

Bedrooms need to meet requirements of habitable spaces as well as emergency egress.

Here is a post on this that most likely will help you with most of the questions on this exact subject.…
0 votes
Jojo, Home Buyer, Los Angeles, CA
Thu Jul 23, 2015
I recently purchased a home an the state inspector is telling me that one bedroom is not up to code. Either I do a tear down or build the room the right way. Who is responsible for this is was not disclosed a at the time of the purchase.
0 votes
djennifer009, , Salt Lake City, UT
Thu Apr 23, 2015
It depends on the location's codes. Sometimes a built-in wardrobe is required for the room to be considered a bedroom. Other times, the room can simply have space for a freestanding wardrobe. It sounds like you should talk to the city about the requirements.
0 votes
Paultallo, Home Buyer, Hudson, NH
Thu Sep 12, 2013
Not necessarily "sales gimmick" but to satisfy what appraiser/bank may consider value and comps - i run into this with rental property i have (pre-1900 built in New Hampshire). Multiple times the appraisers have indicated that the closet was distinction that the banks were using. Big difference in comparing rents and comparable property values of one bedroom and two bedroom units ! So nothing to do with permits, use, legal, but if you want if you want numbers to work to get financing......
0 votes
Paultallo, Home Buyer, Hudson, NH
Thu Sep 12, 2013
My experience (older 1900 rental property house in New Hampshire) is that you'll run into the bedroom definition distinction more with the appraisers who follow what the bank/lender wants as a definition to determine value and "comps".
0 votes
Lillie Missb…, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Sat Dec 3, 2011
Hi Jena,

Normally when a realtor lists the property they are going not only by what the county records state but what is also stated by the sellers. Realtors noramlly would state as an example: 3 bedrooms and a den or office. If they state they additional room is a bedroom it could be because they converted the room and removed the closet or it was an option and it's something easy to add back on. If you need help Jena in buying your home I specialize buying and selling in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. You have some great answers by quite a few realtors. Find a realtor that fits your personality and who listens to what you and your family is asking for. She or he can do some great research for you. I am a short sale specialist, REO and HAFA certified and love negotiating on behalf of my clients. There are some excellent realtors in San Ramon, Danville, etc. Call one of us and let us do the work for you! I love saving my clients as much as I can on their home purchases. If you need help, please don't hesitate to call.

Best regards,

Lillie Missbrenner,Realtor
Better Homes and Garden Previously Prudential California Realty
Cell: 925-628-9100
0 votes
Mike A., , San Ramon, CA
Thu Dec 1, 2011
It amazes me how many people authoritatively answer this question with the wrong answer!

Whether the choice to call it a bedroom or not might be legally challenged or not is dependent on local codes and what the assessor's office says the number of bedrooms in that house is.

Most localities incorporate California building codes (CBC) by reference. CBC does not require a closet. Your locality *may* require a closet, but it is unlikely.

Pacita in her answer referenced Sonoma County PRMD. What is interesting about this reference is that Sonoma is coming at it from exactly the opposite angle. They are concerned about homeowner's building rooms which they will refer to as *offices* etc. but will actually be used as a bedroom. Their concern is that this will be done in order to sidestep septic limitations.
0 votes
Joanna Jensen, Other Pro, Livermore, CA
Fri Jul 1, 2011

If it is a room with no closet it is not a bedroom. It is a den or, per my husband who is the loan officer may be called a torture chamber.

However it is not a bedroom.

The problem may arise with agents who do not have enough education or are trying to put one buy on you.

I think real estate does not have room for sales in that manner.

JoAnna Jensen
Legal Assistant
Volo Law
925 699 5041
Web Reference:
0 votes
Marla McWill…, Agent, Coeur d Alene, ID
Tue Mar 1, 2011
Being licensed in 4 states, it's my understanding that these "rules" vary from state to state.

As others have mentioned, older houses did not have "built in" closets. I own several rentals that have NO closets in the 3 bedrooms, am I to sell or rent it as a "O" bedroom home, I think not.

Mainly, an old wives tale!

Egress is a concern, and without windows of certain size, a room is not safe for "sleeping" in --- hence a bedroom!

GREAT question Jena!!
Web Reference:
0 votes
Home Buyer, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Tue Mar 1, 2011
Hi ,
With reference to victorian homes ,those were built in victorian times,and I am not sure if they had any building codes as such.Why cant real estate agents say its an office or a den ,study etc?Why they have to state it as a bedroom when it is not.....just in order to be competitive with other listings and bump up the price ,they say 5 bedroom but one room with out a closet.I have redone my entire home and the building inspector clearly stated that in order for any room to be called it as an bedroom I need to have a closet in it.
0 votes
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Tue Mar 1, 2011
It seems convenient, real-estate-wise, to say that a room must have a closet in order to be considered a bedroom. NOT true. Older homes used to rely on freestanding wardrobes and dressers in bedrooms. So many Victorian homes, for example, don't have closets in rooms used as bedrooms.

But there are specific requirements.

Here's a link you may find interesting. It refers to California building code.


Bedroom: any space in the conditioned area of a dwelling unit or accessory structure which is 70 square feet and greater in size and which is located along an exterior wall, but not including the following: hall; bathroom; kitchen; living room (maximum of one per dwelling unit); dining room (in proximity to kitchen, maximum of one per dwelling unit); family room (maximum of one per dwelling unit), laundry room, closet/dressing room opening off of a bedroom.

The Director of PRMD or his/her designee may grant exceptions if a room, by its design, cannot function as a bedroom. Sewing rooms, dens, studios, lofts, game rooms, and any other conditioned room along an exterior wall which is 70 square feet or greater in size will be considered to be bedrooms unless the room is
specifically exempted.

If a home office, library or similar room is proposed, it may be exempted from being considered a bedroom if there is no closet and at least one of the following is present: a) permanently built-in bookcases, desks and other feature that encumber the room in such a way that it cannot be used as a bedroom; b) a minimum 4 foot opening, without doors, into another room; or c) a half wall (4 foot maximum height) between the room and another room. A detached building which contains only a half bath will not routinely be considered as having a bedroom unless it is specifically identified and permitted as a guest house.

When an exception is made per the above, it shall be documented in Permits Plus in the comments section so that all staff are aware of the determination. A conditional statement may be required to be signed by the property owner if the permit is for an outbuilding which has been determined to be a use other than a bedroom or other living space. This statement may be recorded as necessary to inform future property owners of restrictions on use of the building.
0 votes
Steve Dawson, , Walnut Creek, CA
Mon Feb 28, 2011

In Contra Costa, the bedroom does not have to have a closet in order to be considered a bedroom.
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0 votes
Bob Georgiou, Agent, Danville, CA
Sat Feb 26, 2011

Legal? don't know about that but it is customary for a room that has a closet or large enough to reasonably add one to be called a bedroom. For example many homes have "offices" with built in shelves where if an owner removed the built in it is the closet location. Should the office in this example be called a bedroom? Grey area call. The final arbiter in my opinion is public records, the rest is sales gimmickery.
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0 votes
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