If you google the question, "Can you call a room a bedroom without a closet", you'll get inaccurate results as it pertains to Florida. Reputable sites are answering that questiong using Codes that
relate to other States.
In Florida, if you advertise a house for sale as a 4 bedroom when in fact one room is not a bedroom, you and your Broker may be misrepresenting your property.
Most States have adopted the International Residential Code (IRC) as the foundation for Code development purposes. In a conversation with a colleague, he stated that the International Residential Code (IRC) does not require a closet for a room to be considered a bedroom. However, as I pointed out, the IRC is a guideline. It is not itself the Florida Code.
Here is the Florida CODE defining a bedroom:
A bedroom needs at least two methods of egress. It should be accessible from within the house (door or an entrance where a door could be reasonably installed), and then have one other exit (window or door – see Escape next).
- Escape and Rescue:
A bedroom must have one other method of egress beyond the entrance point. A door or window to the exterior is required.
The room should be at least 70 square feet of conditioned space, (cannot be smaller than 7 feet in any horizontal direction.)
Manufactured homes that are constructed according to the standards of HUD can have a minimum of 50 square feet of floor area.
- Ceiling Height (non-HUD):
50% of a bedroom ceiling needs to be at least 7 feet tall. If a portion of the area is less than 5 feet tall, that portion isn’t considered a livable area and should not be counted toward the room's square footage.
- Location: Bedroom is to be located along an exterior wall.
- CLOSET: A closet is required.
- Electric Outlets/Wall Switch: Required
For Electrical Requirements of a bedroom, like the IRC, most local codes adapt the National Electrical Code (NEC), but local codes always takes 1st position over the IRC and NEC when there's a difference in how the Code is written.
A BEDROOM WAS IN THE PLANS BUT NO CLOSET WAS INSTALLED:
I've come across properties in which the County Records match the advertised bedroom Count but one of the designated bedrooms doesn't have a closet. If a house was built in the last 20 years, and if the county records match the advertised number of bedroom, I would consider installing a closet or verifying the septic tank size. It could be that the septic is the correct size for the advertised bedrooms, but it could also be that the wrong size septic was installed and not corrected in the records. If the county has the matching Bedroom Count in records, I would be more inclined to simply install a closet.
Here's a bedroom in a house that we were interested in buying as a rental property or a flip. One of the designated bedrooms didn't have a closet but County Records matched the advertised bedroom count so we put in an offer.
BEDROOMS AND SEPTIC SIZE:
A lot of buyers, sellers and Agents are not aware of Florida’s definition of a bedroom. In Florida, one method used to determine septic size includes the number of bedrooms. The Department of Health assumes two occupants per bedroom. The purpose in calculating septic size is in part to protect potable water safety. According to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health, about 30% of Florida homes are on a septic system. Homes are still being built every day with septic.
You cannot have more bedrooms than your septic system can handle.
If your house was built as a 3 bedroom, it is unlikely that the builder would have put in a larger septic than the size required in the plans. If the plans are for 3 bedrooms, a builder is going to put in a septic that accomadates 3 bedrooms. The septic for a 4 bedroom house is larger than a 3 Bed as is a 5 bedroom verses a 4 bedroom etc.
Not every buyer will care if the room is technically a bedroom, but if you sell to a buyer who is not aware of the technical aspect, that buyer may have recourse if they find out after the fact that the house they bought is a 3 bed instead of a 4 bed. As it pertains to septic, to add a legal additional bedroom, the owner of the property will likely need to replace the current septic system with a larger capacity system. It's more than just the tank. It's the permitting process, installation and the possible need to increase the size of the leach field, which also comes with labor costs. Unless a workaround is available, which in most cases it won't be, the cost will make the price a buyer paid for the house questionable since the negotiantions didn't factor in replacing septic.
YOU CAN CONFIRM BEDROOM COUNT THROUGH:
- COUNTY RECORDS
- TAX RECORDS
The MLS system we use cross references Tax Records with the Bedrooms listed by the agent. Our MLS shows 2 Bedrooms in Tax records while the MLS shows 3. Although we still double check records ourselves, this feature helps to quickly see the Bedroom discrepancy if one exists.
Depending on where you're located within Florida, permitting will be done by the City or the County. You will need to verify which handles your permitting.
Everyone involved with Real Estate has come across Additions to property that were not permitted. At some point, someone will have to deal with the unpermitted improvements, but sometimes, a buyer assumes responsibility. The important point is that the buyer is aware of unpermitted work or defects, whatever they may be! You will not typically lose a buyer over disclosures unless it's a massive issue.
There are instances in which County Records do not match improvements made to a property. The most likely reason for this mismatch is non-permitted improvements. If the county was to become aware of non-permitted work, the property owner might have to take down the structure and/or face unexpected expenses.
As a Seller, you probably don't want to point out unpermitted work to everyone who appears at your doorstep but when you get a serious buyer, if you are personally aware of unpermitted work, you need to disclose it or fix the permit issue yourself.
Many years ago, I was working behind the scenes marketing a nice large size property. The Seller had built a Guest / In-Law apartment attached to the main house through a roof canopy and a shared septic. It had a separate entrance, full Kitchen, Bathroom with Shower, and multiple doors running the length of the Structure facing the pool area. Beautiful property. The problem was that the Seller didn’t agree with the City (excluded here) over the installation of the doors. The Seller stated that due to the disagreement, he had the Structure permitted as a Cabana. County Records showed the structure as a Cabana. According to the Seller it was approved because he removed the doors.
As illogical as it may seem to some, a Cabana can have a Bathroom on the same septic without increasing the septic size (although other considerations come into play which could require a larger septic.) A Cabana is not viewed the same as a Dwelling. After inspections, the Seller installed the doors and enjoyed the addition for years (don't try this at home - consequences if caught
can be financially painful!)
Had the seller Permitted the Structure legally, it would no longer be considered a Cabana. The Guest / In-Law apartment would now be considered a Dwelling and therefore, the septic size would not be sufficient.
In the transaction above, the Buyer was made fully aware that the Structure was not permitted and that they would need to work through the permitting issues and either install a separate septic or replace the current septic with a larger size. Maybe the buyers removed the high-quality expensive doors after they moved in(?) What do you think?
As a seller, you may think that the AS IS contract creates a buyer beware relationship, but it's doesn't. A buyer's due diligence should show that the bedroom count was wrong, but some buyers will not realize this is an issue even with inspections, appraisals etc., until (long pause), they try to correct the county records or make improvements to the bedroom that require permits. It's at that point that a buyer may believe that the house they purchased was misrepresented.
In most instances, the misrepresentation of the bedroom count will be uncovered before closing. Being up-front with potential buyers is the only way to handle it. You don't want the bedroom count to become an issue after all parties have invested time and money into the transaction. If you have a bonus room or a den, then don't claim it's a bedroom.
If there is a Lender involved, the Lender’s appraiser will adjust the appraisal to account for the room being a bonus room or Den, and not a bedroom.
You may think that since a buyer is responsible for their own due diligence, they have no recourse. I am not an Attorney. I will say that if this is your belief, you should speak with an Attorney to find out if you are correct. Keep in mind that if it is deemed that the house was misrepresented, buyers may consult with thier own Attorney who may disagree with your thought process.
IS THE BUYER PAYING MORE FOR THE 4TH BEDROOM?
A buyer looking for a 3 bedroom house might pay a little more for a 4th bedroom if all other factors are equal, but many won't. Buyers looking for 4 bedrooms will pay more if the location fits the
area they want, and if it is more common for homes to be built with 3 bedrooms and they want 4, or if 4 bedrooms command a higher price in a given area. This is a slightly different scenario. If the price of a 4 Bed house is comparable to
the price of a 3 Bed that has a Den or Bonus room, then possibly no harm if septic is not an issue. But, if the price was higher, the issue of misrepresenting the home could be raised.
Keep in mind that as a seller in Florida, you would have needed prior knowledge that you actually have a 3 bed verses a 4 bed for it to become a problem for you. But between your personal and your Broker's knowledge, it's would be hard to imagine that you would be oblivious to your true room count.
- Some old houses were built without closets in the bedroom and are Grandfathered in as bedrooms. Most people today would expect to have a closet in the bedroom. If you know that a room is not technically a bedroom, do not list it as bedroom.
Bedroom Codes from Two Counties:
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY BUILDING CODE:
Bedroom means a private room with a closet and window, designed in a manner appropriate for sleeping, separated from other rooms by a door, and accessible to a bathroom without crossing another bedroom or living room.
Bedroom: Any residential room which has an area of 70 Sq. Ft. or more and a storage closet and is not part of the common living area.
BEDROOM CODES VARY FROM STATE TO STATE
Building codes will vary from state to state. In most cities, bedrooms must have an escape or rescue point (usually a window). Building codes will dictate the maximum and minimum height, minimum square footage and width of the window.
In other States, a closet may not be required to classify a room as a bedroom. In Florida, a closet is required unless it was grandfathered in.
If you're thinking of selling
or buying in Florida,
call "Scott" Polisar
Hunt Realty Group
He'll provide service or Referrals to help you buy or sell in Florida
941-882-5494 Ext 701
813-324-1005 Ext 701
This information is not guaranteed for your particular circumstance and nothing written here should be considered advice.