Unpermitted addition not disclosed at time of sale

So have an interesting problem for all of you experienced folks. I bought a rental property a few years back which was disclosed as a 4/2 in the east bay. Due to recent rains, there’s been a number of challenges with water ingress into the property and we have been working on mitigating the water damage. While opening up the drywall to inspect water damage, we realized the property is actually a 3/1 and not a 4/2 (the additional rooms were not up to permit, seems the previous owner hung some dry wall and put some subpar foundation down to create the additions.

I have gone back and looked at the records. inspection and appraisals call the unit as 4/2 but the parcel information in the county records have no information on the building characteristics due to the age of the property.

I would like some advice on what my avenues for recourse are and what I can potentially salvage out of this situation so that i can formulate a game plan before either approaching the seller or getting legal counsel.

thank you!

the question would be, was it really the most recent owner (your seller) who did the addition or was the addition done before he bought it. You could find out from MLS data, if the property was listed and/or sold several times.

1 more detail. You said “County Records”. Would that be county assessor?
You should check with the building department. In theory, the addition could have been permitted but was not properly finalized and that’s why the assessor never updated their number.

I’ve even seen cases where the permit was properly finalized and still the assessor did not get the update.

More often it works backwards. The assessor has noticed the addition and updates his records, in order to collect more property tax. They will want more tax, regardless of permit status :slight_smile:

Before prop 13 came in place, the assessors would send out an appraiser every 5 to 10 years to all properties in the county, to measure and look, if something had changed. I have seen a property that was a 1/1 in 1910, a 2/1 in 1920, had a second unit in 1930 and in 1960, there were 3 structures, of which the original 1/1 had grown into a 3/2.

As long as this “growth” has happened before the introduction of the permit system, one is OK. Any growth after 1950 better be permitted. In the case of the 3 units, it was determined that all 3 units were built by or before 1940, but the 2/1 main house had expanded to a 3/2 after 1950, and in 2010, the city issued a red tag, requiring conversion back to 2/1.

edit for clarification:

i looked at the property under the parcel viewer for the county and it returned that there was no building information associated with the property. so it does not indicate if the property is a 4/2 or a 3/1.

agree don’t know if it’s the previous owner, or the owner before that. guess i will need to dig into MLS to see when the listing changed

Disclosure: I don’t have a law degree. Just my best understanding.

If the seller performed the unpermitted work or knew it was unpermitted, then he should disclose it. However, sometimes (or often) additions were done years ago and gone thru multiple owners. The previous owner (seller) might not known about how the addition came about.

And listing sq ft or rooms that is not permitted is not against the law, if they don’t know about it.

If addition was done prior to seller, then there is no way to prove he knew. If addition was done by the seller, then you might have a case.

Sometimes it if best not to dig or find out about addition. So now you know, and when you sell, you either need to disclose it or bring it up to code.