Inspecting Multi Family Dwellings- an interesting point!

Home Inspector with 4 Seasons Home Inspection, LLC

 Inspecting Multi Dwellings- 2011

Many times we inspect Multi unit dwellings.  An interesting point was bought to my attention from a professional colleague who had a strange experience with a 2 family dwelling very recently.  He inspected a 2 family residential home up North Jersey.  The inspection was very typical and he did a great job for the client and they purchased the property.  The two family home had separated utilities (gas and electric), 2 hot water heaters, 2 heating systems and 2 separate entrances.  It looked like a duck, walked like a duck and so it was a duck ... right?   Hmmm... it was listed and sold as a 2 family home but after the buyer purchased the home, a law suit letter was sent to the home inspector, both lawyers and realtors involved.  Why?

The formal complaint on the docket stated that the home was not a "Legal" 2 family home on records with the township or municipality and everyone should have known that!  This was only discovered after the purchase and the new owners ran into problems with the Township when renting out the units.  The Township said they had no record of the home as being a "Legal" two family.  Legal code, regulations and ordinances are beyond the scope of a home inspector.   So please do the client a good service and make sure the Township is informed in advance when the home is listed and let the Township officially determine if a home has legal multi dwelling status before closing to protect everyone. 

Comments (3)

Peg Barcelo
Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369 - Summerland, BC
The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC

Linda, why would the home inspector be named? They wouldn't know if the house was' legal' 2 family or that in your scope of practice to find out?

Apr 03, 2011 06:35 AM
Vickie Rohrer
Prudential PenFed Realty - Salisbury, MD

Very good point..MultiDwellings can be so tricky. In our area if the Dwelling has 4 or more units and they have their own meters they are considered commerical properties. Now you must do a commerical loan.

Apr 03, 2011 06:40 AM
Donald Reich
Prudential Centennial - New Rochelle, NY

I would think that BOTH realtors are responsble here. The seller's agent foremost, because he misrepresented this house as a multi - family house. The buyer's agent, because he did not do his due dilligence for his buyer, to determine that this was in fact NOT a 2 family house.

The seller may also bear some responsibility, as the realtor was acting on his behalf.

The home inspector has nothing to do with c.o.'s but should be able to tell what kind of condition the home is in.

Finally, if the buyer bought the home under the impression that it was a 2 family house, and nothing came up in the title search to the contrary, I think they would have a claim with their title insurance company.

Apr 03, 2011 07:07 AM