A rental property will always rent for a higher price if it has more bedrooms. Naturally, landlords want to maximize the number of useful bedrooms in their rental properties so that they can maximize their rent. In some cases, this means turning a studio apartment into a one bedroom. It can also mean finishing an empty space, like a basement or attic, to create additional bedrooms. Many landlords are wondering specifically what the criteria are for converting a space into a bedroom and marketing the space as a bedroom. You can’t just stick a bed in the corner of the room and call it a bedroom. However, the actual requirements can be a bit fuzzy. Read on to learn more about the criteria for bedrooms in rental properties in part one of this series.
Converting Spaces Into Bedrooms
The specific building codes for bedrooms and the criteria for marketing a space as a bedroom vary by region. In order to get specific and accurate information on the building codes in your town, it is important to contact the local building code enforcement office and ask for the details. Your realtor can inform you of the rules for marketing a space as a bedroom. Inform the building inspector and realtor that you plan to convert a basement or attic into a bedroom, and ask what the requirements are for doing so.
Although the details vary from one area to the next, there are some general guidelines that apply across the nation.
The biggest issue that people encounter when converting a basement into a bedroom is that there must be two forms of exit. This requirement is for safety purposes. In the event that there was a fire or other emergency, the occupant needs to have at least two ways to get out of the basement (in case one exit was blocked). One form of exit is the door that is used to access the unit. The other form of exit can be another door out of the unit or a window. Windows in basements are often in window wells below ground level, though; in this case, there must be a ladder so that the occupant can climb out of the window.
Every area has ceiling height minimums for basements, as well. In older homes, it is common for basement ceilings to be low – perhaps six feet. Most areas require a seven or eight foot ceiling height. In that case, the basement would have to be dug out to provide sufficient ceiling height.
Before you start digging out the basement or tearing apart the foundation to add doors or windows, talk with your local building code office. In some cases, older homes may be grandfathered in to the current codes, which means that major renovations may not be necessary.
Building code regulations for bedrooms in rental units are aimed primarily at ensuring safety and privacy. To learn more about the regulations for converting basement or attic spaces into bedrooms, check out part two of this series on criteria for bedrooms in rental properties.
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Criteria for Bedrooms in Rental Properties – Part 2