In Berkeley, CA we would like to buy a duplex property and live in both halves. Is this possible?

Asked by Rle, Berkeley, CA Fri Jul 4, 2008

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Priscilla Ri…, Agent, Berkeley, CA
Sat Jul 5, 2008
Hi Rie,
It is absolutely possible, as long as it is vacant and you don't have to fight the city's rent control board. I also suggest looking at properties with au pair units either attached or in the back yards. There are quite a few of them in Berkeley. Good Luck with your search....
2 votes
Pam Winterba…, Agent, Danville, VA
Fri Jul 4, 2008

It should be a go unless it is tenant occupied. Then the tenants would have certain rights and Berkeley is very heavily into rent control and tenants rights. Check first.
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2 votes
Steve, Home Buyer, Berkeley, CA
Sat Jul 5, 2008
I went in to talk with the Berkeley Rent Board specifically about this on a property I was looking at. As other posters have said, if both units are empty then it's totally fine. If they are occupied it's still possible but involves more risk and expense. What the BRB told me is that you declare one unit as your primary residence and the other for "personal use." But that's just a technicality -- you can live and use both as your home.

Getting a permit to put a connecting interior passage or something in between the two units is more of problem - it's possible but much more work involved with Permits in Berkeley.
1 vote
Lisa Cartola…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Sat Jul 5, 2008
Hi Rle,

When buying a duplex if you would like to occupy both halves, you will want to look for a vacant duplex. This will really be the easiest avenue for you. When a property is tenant occupied, you will need to make sure that you follow the guidelines of Berkeley's Rent Control. I would really suggest you check out Berkeley's rent control information so you have a better understand of tenants rights when a property is being sold.

A buyer does have the right to evict tenants for owner occupation, but in the case of a duplex it can be more complicated becuase there are two units.

Here is a link to the City of Berkeley's web site with the information regarding rent control:

Often times in the instance when the buyer is looking to evict a tenant for owner occupation, hiring a lawyer who specializes in this process is a good idea to hire just to ensure that the process is completed by the letter of the law and to ensure that the tenant rights are not violated.

Good luck!

Lisa Cartolano
Alain Pinel Realtors
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1 vote
HappyHome, Home Buyer, 94704
Fri Jul 18, 2008
That's funny that I just asked a related question.

The people who answered aren't whistling dixie as far as the law. For example if you evict a tenant they have a right to move in if the family member moves out at the same rent. That's just one thing. I can't find the link but read their laws.
0 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Sat Jul 5, 2008
Are you saying that both halves will be your primary residence?

0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Fri Jul 4, 2008
Sure you own it the only thing a city would have problems with if you attempted to live in a commercial building not zoned correctly
0 votes
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