Residential Property Management/Tenant sleeping in basement


Hi Mike-

I rent out a 1 1/2 story house (my old house before moving to a bigger one due to my growing family) that is 2 bedrooms on the main and 1 in the 1/2 story upstairs, 2 baths and a finished basement. The city's rental inspector gave notice of a inspection in a few weeks and I went and checked the house. I found that the tenant has moved his bedroom to the basement (in the room next to the bathroom) but there is no egress window for this room so it technically cannot be a bedroom. Is this something the inspector can cite me for? It has always been listed as a 3 bedroom home.

My problem or tenant's problem?



Yes, I suppose you could be cited by the city, and yes, as the owner of the property you would have responsibility in the city's eyes. Of course, you could then seek recovery from the tenant if they are doing something that is disallowed in the lease.

The best approach if the city does call you out on it is to point out that the tenant has a bedroom available to him on the main floor, and the basement room is supplemental to that. Of course, having the cooperation of your tenant in that process would be helpful.

City inspector aside, keep in mind that since you now have knowledge of this situation, you are exposed to risk in the event something happens to the tenant while sleeping in the basement (fire, etc). For that reason, your official position to your tenant (put in writing) is that the basement is not approved for that purpose. Or, install an egress window and then you'll have an extra room to rent!

Good luck with your inspection.

Residential Property Management

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Mike Fortunato


Very familiar with all aspects of property management (tenant/landlord issues, lease administration, facilities maintenance, financials, etc). 25+ years in property management


I have been in real estate management for 25+ years, both residential and commercial properties. Currently own and operate a commercial and residential real estate management company in southern California.

IREM; BOMA; MLS; National Association of Realtors; California Association of Realtors

CPM (Certified Property Manager) and RPA (Real Property Administrator)

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