Illegal Garage Conversions Growing in Santa Clarita Area

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX of Santa Clarita in Valencia

With escalating home prices in the Los Angeles County region, including the Santa Clarita area, many homeowners are turning to illegal garage conversions to add extra living space.

While this may seem like a great idea, it's actually not a safe choice. Garages are not fire safety-rated for living quarters and include extra hazards like water heaters, furnaces, washers and dryers.

In the City of Santa Clarita, standard 2-car garages cannot be legally converted into living quarters. Space for the third car in a 3-car garage can be legally walled off in some cases, but generally not for living quarters. A common use for the third car bay would be for a home gym.

Homeowners with these illegal garage conversions can be cited for various reasons, including creating a public nuisance, violating parking laws (too many cars), or for creating a visual nuisance in the area. Once reported, the City Inspector will request that the situation be corrected. If there is no response to this by the 3rd citation, then the case gets passed to the City Attorney for prosecution.

Cases of overcrowding that don't include illegal garage conversions are handled by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. 

For more information on the Santa Clarita Valley area, visit and  


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Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Once again proof of how area specific real estate issues are.  On Long Island it is very common to have garage conversions.  It is never an issue, other than legalizing it before closing.

In Queens, the county just west of Nassau, it has been an issue in the past.

Aug 01, 2006 12:15 PM #1
Linda Slocum
RE/MAX of Santa Clarita in Valencia - Santa Clarita, CA
Realtor - Santa Clarita

I think part of it concerns local building codes - here, garages are considered unsafe living spaces. And the most common residents of the converted areas are children. The City doesn't want to see more deaths of children that could have been easily prevented.

The second part of this is the neighborhood nuisance issue - if there are too many people living in a home, then it becomes a nuisance to the neighbors with the extra cars and all. Often it's a neighbor who reports the situation as a nuisance call rather than as an illegal garage conversion.

Aug 01, 2006 12:33 PM #2
Mark Lickteig
Mlend - Frederick, MD

I am running into a similar problem out here on the East coast with people who turned their single-family into a multi-family home, but forgot the check with the county for zoning.  I have had 4 properties where the property was not zoned correctly and extra kitchens had to be removed before they could continue.

Aug 01, 2006 02:22 PM #3

we have the same problem, city wont enforce the complaints and to many people living in a single family home is a big problem when trying to sell our looks like a tri plex.

La has become a host of these eye sores.

Nov 13, 2008 10:57 AM #4
David Salvato
David Home Inspection Service Home Inspector San Bernardino - Los Angeles, CA

I have seen more bad garage conversions than I have seen good garage conversions and I can spot ‘em a mile away. There is the typical 1-car conversion. There are the 2-car garages that are converted into 1-car and pulling half the garage sqft into the house. Better yet, garage doors still on the front and if you open them up you get a 6'-deep storage then a wall (that's just weird). Or garage doors still on the front but they do not open because there is a wall behind them. Oh, I have seen some weird garage conversions.

Sep 16, 2009 07:34 AM #5
Jeffrey Alexander Mandel

My property was illegally converted to a master bedroom before I bought it cash, I got cited after several months and there was nothing I could do but fix it!! After turning it back into a 2-car garage the motor was broken and the company wasn't getting back to me. Anyways I found a decent company on google, it was Santa Clarita Garage Door Repair got them on the phone right away and they showed up within the hour to the my garage door motor.

Feb 27, 2015 08:13 PM #6
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Linda Slocum

Realtor - Santa Clarita

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