I live in San Diego, CA and own a duplex property. On the alley behind the duplex there is a single building with 2 single car garages, 1 rented with each unit. There are also 4 total open parking spaces, 2 on each side of the garage. I want to turn the entire space (garages plus open parking) into a building with 5 or 6 single car garages and rent each of those separately for either housing cars or as storage space. What are the legalities I need to be aware of?
You are on the right track with respect to the intended use. Your municipal and/or county codes very likely prohibit occupancy of these spaces for housing, even just temporary housing. Ditto any sort of business or industrial use, such as workshop of any kind of employment or work for pay or for products intended for sale. It is typical that garage space can only be used for vehicle and other storage. But you will still need to check with your local government entities because your plans raise issues as to density, allowable parking, etc.
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Depending on the zoning of your property, such a use may be allowed. You will have to check with your City Planning Department.
Issues that you need to be concerned with would include obtaining plans and permits, including possible engineering, perhaps obtaining a variance, have the building constructed using a qualified and licensed contractor, undergoing inspections and obtaining final approval.
In renting the units, you should protect yourself by using a good lease, demanding or suggesting that each tenant obtain insurance, and making sure you have coverage.
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