Living in a University town, a good part of our real estate sales are students and parents of students looking for housing. I found a perfect house for my students close to campus and even zoned R3 allowing for student rental. We negotiated down to a reasonable price and during our inspection period I checked with the City to be sure zoning was correct for students. It was....but....here it comes....because the home had been single family it would have to go through a "Change of Use" process. Even though it was Zoned correctly it would need zoning approval of the change of use and an inspection by both County Building Department and City Fire Department. This is fairly new to the Big Rapids market so I am learning as we go. Zoning approval was pretty painless, next the County. Enter frustration.
I explained to the person at the County Building Department our intent to rent to students and was told I needed a rental inspection that would cost $50. I paid the fee and agreed to meet the inspector at the home. Next morning right on schedule the inspector arrived and before we left the roadside he told me it would not be cost effective to use this building as a rental. When I asked him why, he said we would need to use fireproof drywall in each bedroom, install a fire sprinkler system and have an architect draw up a blueprint of the home for the building departments review. So off he went. I did question why the Building Department had not told me BEFORE they took my non refundable $50 fee and he had no idea and was of course $50 worth of sorry.
First zoning, then parking issues and now change of use has all but stopped new rentals in our town for students and best of all when I contacted the City, they told me the County Inspector is not even contracted to do inspections yet. You tell me, Change of Use or Abuse? I can see with new construction the need for making sure homes are built to meet code but to demand $30K worth of repairs on a home that has never had an issue seems a little over the top to me. This is not a 30 unit motel but a home to be occupied by the buyers daughters and a friend. Best of luck in all you do and thanks for reading.