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Old 02-19-2013, 11:11 PM
 
377 posts, read 618,893 times
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Wondering what sort of liabilities there would be if I buy a home where a renovator had the basement finished with a bedroom and bathroom with no egress?

There is no walkout or window egress. I will rent this home out in a few years but have no plans of advertising it with a finished basement due to these issues.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
12,552 posts, read 23,804,834 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast GTO View Post
Wondering what sort of liabilities there would be if I buy a home where a renovator had the basement finished with a bedroom and bathroom with no egress?

There is no walkout or window egress. I will rent this home out in a few years but have no plans of advertising it with a finished basement due to these issues.
I am no lawyer, but we are landlords in Maryland. I suggest you have a lease which specifically forbids the tenant from using the basement as a permanent bedroom. I'd also remove the door from the basement bedroom, or knock down the wall if possible.

The worst liability I can think of is someone being trapped there during a fire. The survivors might be able to sue you, so I would check with a lawyer before renting the place out.

If you like the house otherwise, that should not stop you from buying it. As an alternative, you might see if you could dig out an entrance and cut through the basement wall to make a legal entrance. Depending on the house and the neighborhood, it might be a valuable improvement.

Last edited by goldenage1; 02-20-2013 at 12:08 AM..
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:37 AM
 
Location: Some T-1 Line
520 posts, read 942,903 times
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I think Goldenage1 said it all; that is what I was going to say.

I own two homes in MD that both are only accessible via the door off the kitchen. One home I live in, and the other one I rent out. I found out that my tenants moved their older daughter in without my knowledge. I found this out because every time I went over to work on the house, she and a little baby was down there. My basement has 2 windows, but not large enough for exiting the basement in an emergency.

As a result, I drafted up a disclosure/disclaimer documentation afterwards that stated that the basement had inadequate egress for an emergency situation; thus, the possibility for injury or death was heightened due to this fact. Then, I had another document drafted up which specified that the tenants understood the scope/limitations of use for the basement.

I have been living in my house since '03 and have owned the rental since '06. I have, however, thought about cutting in a larger window into the rental property's basement. I have also thought about digging and cutting in a door over there as well, but the economics (about $20K) combined with the real estate market situation is prohibiting that. The only reason why I am thinking about doing it is (1) I'm thinking about selling my house and moving over to the rental [they are identical properties], (2) It would make the house more attractive when time to re-sell.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:40 AM
 
377 posts, read 618,893 times
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Thanks for the info. That is what I thought as well regarding the disclosure/addendum added to a rental contract. I should be okay as long as I don't advertise it as a bedroom and have a specific clause in the contract, that they need to initial, that states the basement is not a living space etc...

I did look into costs to build in an egress. This is what I found:

About $5350 - $6750 depending on type or style of well, difficulty or ease of access, n drainage issues; includes permits.

Sam Weisgal
Sam@theFoundationExpert.com
(443) 742-7801 Cell


Not really worth it since the property is already a found bedroom and fifth bedrooms generally add little value.

Last edited by Fast GTO; 02-20-2013 at 06:52 AM..
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:48 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
12,552 posts, read 23,804,834 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajsmith365 View Post
As a result, I drafted up a disclosure/disclaimer documentation afterwards that stated that the basement had inadequate egress for an emergency situation; thus, the possibility for injury or death was heightened due to this fact. Then, I had another document drafted up which specified that the tenants understood the scope/limitations of use for the basement.
That's good also. Even if you prohibited the tenants from moving someone in, they could do it anyway.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Maryland
18,606 posts, read 18,261,589 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenage1 View Post
That's good also. Even if you prohibited the tenants from moving someone in, they could do it anyway.
And I bet the landlord would still be responsible.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:04 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
32,453 posts, read 75,373,035 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast GTO View Post
Wondering what sort of liabilities there would be if I buy a home where a renovator
had the basement finished with a bedroom and bathroom with no egress?
Depends. For your own use then little or no liability.

How long ago was the work done?
Was it permitted and inspected?

Quote:
There is no walkout or window egress.
I will rent this home out in a few years but have no plans of advertising it
with a finished basement due to these issues.
Whether you rent it out or not... if you buy plan on about $5000 for the work.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:38 PM
 
Location: Some T-1 Line
520 posts, read 942,903 times
Reputation: 448
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast GTO View Post
This is what I found:

About $5350 - $6750 depending on type or style of well, difficulty or ease of access, n drainage issues; includes permits.

Sam Weisgal
Sam@theFoundationExpert.com
(443) 742-7801 Cell

Not really worth it since the property is already a found bedroom and fifth bedrooms generally add little value.
Fast GTO, the $5350 - $6750 may be worth it depending on various factors (price, market, duration of ownership, intended use, etc.).

Adding the basement may seem like it's not increasing your property value, but it will increase your buyer pool when you decide to sell. If it were me, if you could get the house for a good discount or have some credits thrown in that may offset the cost of the egress - in part or in its entirety - then the egress would be worth it.

Think about it, the lack of an egress has you on the fence and second-guessing whether to purchase it or not. If you purchase it and decide to sell, the egress would negate those doubts in other potential buyers and make your property more marketable. But, this is all speculation because no one can predict the market. But, if you can get it for a good price, I say go for it.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:09 AM
 
Location: Metro Washington DC
14,652 posts, read 23,087,577 times
Reputation: 9413
When we rented a house in College Park a few years ago, we were forbidden to let anyone sleep in the basement. The house did have a door to the outside of the house, and a stairway to the first floor. I thought that would be enough because it is two separate ways out of the basement. However, we were told that the stair way did not count. I think modifying the house and adding a door may not be enough in your case. Just what I remember from 10 years ago.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:31 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
12,552 posts, read 23,804,834 times
Reputation: 6172
Fast GTO - If you do rent to tenants, make sure the lease has a clause that they have to maintain batteries in any battery-powered smoke detector, and that they are responsible for cleaning lint out of dryer hoses and keeping other appliances free of flammable dust and other material.

We had an awful fire in a rental house in Jacksonville, NC, where two kids died of smoke inhalation. There was defective wiring in the refrigerator, but the tenant family had not keep batteries in the smoke detectors.
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