How to rent a house plus in-law unit in the SF Bay area?
October 29, 2005 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Moving to the SF Bay area for work and I've been talking with an old college friend about potentially sharing a place (he's living there already). Wondering if anyone knows how to locate rental properties that would offer us a degree of privacy in our living arrangements, while still letting us share utilities and other costs?

I've come across dozens of landlords renting "in-law" apartments or studio cottages on Craigslist, and it occurred to me that perhaps there are some properties where we could rent both the house and the "in-law" unit together. Searching on Craigslist has turned up a few of these, but it seems like in most cases the owners split the property into seperate rentals. Anyone have a good idea how we could make our search more effective? We're mainly looking in the east bay, but can be a bit flexible on this (since we can probably carpool too). Thanks for any suggestions or pointers!
posted by idontlikewords to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
What's your budget? 'Flats' are very common in SF, essentially one property with two stacked apartments. You could buy one for around 4 or 5KB. Your mortgage payment will be about 1.5 market rent but you will be putting that into equity.
posted by Mr T at 9:59 PM on October 29, 2005

posted by metaculpa at 10:12 PM on October 29, 2005

I'd say your chances of finding your ideal are slim to none. It doesn't make sense from a landlord's perspective to set up a property like the one you're looking for.

Mr. T., a stacked flat in SF will run you close to 1mil.
posted by pmbuko at 1:49 AM on October 30, 2005

Why go to all the trouble just to share utilities? PG&E doesn't really add up to that much per month. If you want to live together and split rent to save money, just rent a 2BR apartment or small house/flat.

If you don't want to actually live together, but stilll want to be close, then see if you can both find an available unit in the same building or in units near to each other. You can still carpool. :)

The only situation that I can see that an in-law unit would be needed would be if one of you wanted to take on a much greater share of the rent than the other, e.g. one lives in the house and pays 80% of rent, the other lives in the in-law room above the garage and pays 20%. In most cases a house with an "in-law" thing is going to have a vast disparity in relative size of the two, so if you want to be equals this will never fly. And most houses big enough to have an in-law unit on the side is going to be relatively large -- certainly a lot bigger than one person needs. It's not really designed to be used that way, it's designed for when you have a full household or family living in the house and then someone unrelated (like a student, nurse, maid, au pair, friend in town for a couple of months, etc) that needs much less space.

If you want to be "unequal partners" in this way then you can sometimes find 2BR places where one bedroom is a lot larger, or you could rent a 3BR place and have one roommate claim two of the bedrooms.

It seems like you don't want to actually be roommates because you want privacy, but if both of you only need one bedroom then it doesn't sound like you're going to find anything in your price range that has privacy but is still rented as a single unit. It just doesn't seem like a common situation: most people that want to save money by sharing just live as roommates.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:15 AM on October 30, 2005

I forgot to mention that you *might* be able to find a small duplex that meets your criteria. However I'm not sure if the rent savings will be all that significant because they will probably still be rented as separate units.

From my experience though you won't find any duplexes this small in the more dense areas like Berkeley/Albany, you'll have to look somewhat farther removed like out in eastern Oakland. (And a lot of these will be somewhat ghetto - hate to say it - but duplexes where each half is 1BR are sort of aimed for low income areas. If you can afford bigger, like 2BR on each side then you should be able to find a lot more, but if you're both single guys it might be too much.)
posted by Rhomboid at 5:21 AM on October 30, 2005

Mr. T., a stacked flat in SF will run you close to 1mil.
posted by pmbuko at 1:49 AM PST on October 30 [!]

Not for long.
posted by Mr T at 9:58 AM on October 30, 2005

My experience in CA is that each seperate "legal dwelling" has to pay it's own utility bill, so a granny flat won't work.
posted by fshgrl at 1:48 PM on October 30, 2005

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