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Old 08-17-2016, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Capitol Hill - Washington, DC
3,168 posts, read 4,439,577 times
Reputation: 3389

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Potentially relocating to the area and I'm coming across a ton of English Basement Apartment listings in DC. This concept is new to me as it is definitely not prevalent in the Philadelphia area. Could someone provide some insight for me? I get the concept, that it's completely separate from the rest of the house.

Do they feel small and dark since they're lacking in the window department? Some pictures I've seen do look this way but others have pretty open and spacious floor plans.

Are tenants of basement apartments typically treated as separate from the tenants of the rest of the house or is it more sort of expected to be kind of communal living, hanging out, etc?

How are they for noise? For instance, is it an issue hearing tenants of the main house walking around upstairs?

Any other things to keep in mind regarding basement apartments?

Thanks!
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Old 08-17-2016, 07:49 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
281 posts, read 331,972 times
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It's really just a basement apartment in a townhouse or brownstone. Conditions will vary depending on the unit. Some have windows above eye level, and thus limit light and visibility. Others have windows that don't differ much from non-basements.

Noise from above will differ depending on insulation between upstairs and down.

I'm not sure what you mean by tenants treated differently. It's as it would be in any building with more than one unit, if the upstairs is also a rental. I rented from the owners upstairs, so was the only tenant. But a friend was in a building where each floor was a separate unit, and all were rentals. Yet another was in a building where one tenant rented the full townhouse above and he rented the basement.

Two things to look for are musty odors from dampness, and water coming in. There's often a drain in the area outside the door, but in a heavy rain it can back up into the unit.

Also take a good look at how visible the entry area is--make sure that there's not a good place for a mugger or home invader to lurk and not be seen until you encounter him.
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Old 08-18-2016, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Capitol Hill - Washington, DC
3,168 posts, read 4,439,577 times
Reputation: 3389
Quote:
Originally Posted by trying harder View Post
It's really just a basement apartment in a townhouse or brownstone. Conditions will vary depending on the unit. Some have windows above eye level, and thus limit light and visibility. Others have windows that don't differ much from non-basements.

Noise from above will differ depending on insulation between upstairs and down.

I'm not sure what you mean by tenants treated differently. It's as it would be in any building with more than one unit, if the upstairs is also a rental. I rented from the owners upstairs, so was the only tenant. But a friend was in a building where each floor was a separate unit, and all were rentals. Yet another was in a building where one tenant rented the full townhouse above and he rented the basement.

Two things to look for are musty odors from dampness, and water coming in. There's often a drain in the area outside the door, but in a heavy rain it can back up into the unit.

Also take a good look at how visible the entry area is--make sure that there's not a good place for a mugger or home invader to lurk and not be seen until you encounter him.
Great info, thank you!

How do utilities usually work? Are they split between the units or all on the same meter? I talked to a friend and she knew someone that rented a basement apt and wasn't allowed to run the AC units when she wasn't home. I'd imagine this would be a case-by-case basis depending on how the utilities are set up?
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:08 AM
Status: "Trump-$500M Tax Cheat" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Washington, DC
3,817 posts, read 3,745,072 times
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The worst dwelling I ever lived in was a basement apartment, I took it strictly for the price when I was young and broke.

The worst of it was the people noise from above, it was a family with several young kids. But no doubt there are some decent ones. Georgetown has some fine old expensive homes with separate basement apartments. If they are bright and pleasant enough, and you perceive the owners above to have quiet lives (no kids would be best), you could find a pretty charming situation at a relatively good price.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:14 AM
 
Location: Capitol Hill - Washington, DC
3,168 posts, read 4,439,577 times
Reputation: 3389
Quote:
Originally Posted by Back to NE View Post
The worst dwelling I ever lived in was a basement apartment, I took it strictly for the price when I was young and broke.

The worst of it was the people noise from above, it was a family with several young kids. But no doubt there are some decent ones. Georgetown has some fine old expensive homes with separate basement apartments. If they are bright and pleasant enough, and you perceive the owners above to have quiet lives (no kids would be best), you could find a pretty charming situation at a relatively good price.
Yeah it would definitely have to be the right situation with upstairs tenants. I'm thinking of downsizing for a year or two so this would just be temporary. I just really can't give up having a yard for my dogs and I'm seeing a lot of basement apartments with attached fenced yards or patios that could definitely work, so I'm thinking they may be a good option for the short term until I can get into something larger.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:17 AM
 
Location: DC
6,210 posts, read 6,056,431 times
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English Basements technically are 1/2 above ground and frequently have pretty good light.
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Old 08-20-2016, 06:10 AM
 
Location: Washington D.C.
552 posts, read 929,883 times
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i live in an english basement apartment on New York Ave. The traffic is heavy but never interferes with my sleep. The windows do a great job keeping the loud noise out. I have a three bay window , so i get light from three different angles. It is very bright. I have a separate entrance down original granite steps, 1910, to my apartment. I technically dont need Air Conditioner because it is so cool down here. It will be 100 outside but 75 inside my apartment. I never had problems with flooding or noise from above. It's arranged in the absolute best way but I have seen better. You will love saving on electricity. And you can people watch from indoors, I like to. I grow a lot of plants in my little moat area so that is a big plus for me too.
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Old 08-21-2016, 09:26 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
281 posts, read 331,972 times
Reputation: 447
Quote:
Originally Posted by Becca8377 View Post
Great info, thank you!

How do utilities usually work? Are they split between the units or all on the same meter? I talked to a friend and she knew someone that rented a basement apt and wasn't allowed to run the AC units when she wasn't home. I'd imagine this would be a case-by-case basis depending on how the utilities are set up?
Like all rentals, it will depend on the individual set-up. Mine was separately metered. I know someone else whose utilities were included in the rent.
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Old 09-02-2016, 02:47 PM
 
Location: Capitol Hill - Washington, DC
3,168 posts, read 4,439,577 times
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Thanks all for the insights! I am pretty much almost solely looking for a basement apartment now, I actually kind of love them! I have found some really nice bright and spacious ones that fit what I'm looking for.
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