Illegal apartment rentals you might be living in right now
Illegal rentals seem to be all over Los Angeles County.
Earlier this year I was kicked out of my own illegal rental in DTLA, lost my job right after that and to make it worst I didn’t even know my single apartment above a restaurant was illegal. That’s a horror story for another time, but it was a universal takeaway: knowing what’s legal in your rental market can save you a lot of trouble as a renter in the long run.
Laws differ by location, so protect yourself by educating and researching the building and its local ordinances.
Here are a few red flags that the apartment you’re about to rent is an illegal rental.
You’re renting a basement, cellar, or attic
Basement apartments might seem like a good deal since they are often cheaper, these types of apartments are “cheaper” for a reason. In cities like Los Angeles, where rent is high with a high demand on housing landlords sometimes take things into they’re on hands. They start renting out basements, cellars and attics but the problem with these units is that they don’t meet basic housing criteria. For example in Los Angeles an apartment unit has to have a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet.
A big giveaway is when a unit has low ceilings and tiny windows, if you come across an apartment or room for rent like this definitely do more research on whether this space is legal to rent as a residence.
You’re renting a loft or converted warehouse
The industrial look that many lofts are known for have been on the rise since the late 90’s, even though lofts have a cool look to it most of these former factories are illegal rentals because they aren’t up to snuff in terms of safety and fore codes. So, ask the landlord for a residential Certificate of Occupancy, and beware of lofts where typical residential amenities like bathrooms, plumbing, and electrical seem hacked into the layout in a way that seems less than safe. With the demand of more homes in the downtown Los Angeles area many of the old warehouses were converted into lofts in a rush to meet the high demand.
Not enough windows, exits or doors
If you’re renting a room or bedroom in a large apartment with other people make sure your “bedroom” is legit. A new law in California passed where landlords are now able to add-on different sections to an apartment unit. These sections are usually converted into additional bedrooms but the problem with these types of conversions is that they are not required to pass an inspected.
The main problem with add-on sections is that they don’t have proper fire exits because they lack windows and doors, this is a big concern for most.
Renting a garage is a dead giveaway that your living space is an illegal rental. Renting a garage to live in is never a good idea; garages don’t have proper ventilation and may be a health risk. It is common for many homeowners to convert a garage to an additional room to rent and make extra money but the problem with this is that homeowners don’t hire the proper constriction workers to pass inspection since its cheaper.