Residential Condominium Conversions in Berkeley, CA
Residential condominium conversions are a great way to separate the ownership of a jointly owned property or to pull equity out of a property that is no longer producing. If you are a Tenants in Common (TIC) owner, it is a way to separate the ownership of your property so that you have independent title to your own unit and can finance or sell it separately from the other owners. As the owner of a multi unit property, you can decide to sell the units to obtain greater profits than if you sold the property as a single income producing property.
Different cities and counties in the Bay Area have differing rules for converting property to condominiums. California is a state with some of the strictest residential rental laws in the nation and most communities extend these restrictions to make it difficult for a property owner to convert existing residential rental units to condominiums.
The City of Berkeley has very specific rules for converting an existing building into condominiums. Any multi-unit building in the city is eligible for conversion, but there are specific eligibility requirements and rules that apply. Take a look at the City of Berkeley website for more details about the rules that may apply to your project.
If you still have questions, give our office a call. We have some great attorneys and facilitators that we work with on a regular basis who can help you determine the feasibility of your project and prepare a game plan for your conversion process.
After speaking with an attorney or facilitator, you are ready to start the process. If you have tenants, your first step is to notify your tenants in writing of your intent to convert to condominiums. You must do this 60 days prior to submitting your subdivision application to the city. You must also apply for your Notice of Law Compliance to make sure your building is in legal compliance with local laws and find out if there are things on your building that need updating or repair prior to submitting your application. You don’t need to wait until the end of the 60-day notification or to have the Notice of Local Law Compliance in your hand before you hire Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. to start your project. As soon as you determine that your project is legally fit and financially feasible for you, you should contact us to get started on the mapping because it can take from one to three weeks to complete the surveying necessary to submit your Subdivision application.
The next step is to have Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. prepare the Tentative Map, the Site Plan, Floor Plans, the Condominium Plans, the Subdivision Submittal package and the Subdivision Application.
The items your surveyor needs to get started on your Tentative Map are:
1) Signed contract
2) Preliminary Title Report
3) Copy of the grant deed to your property
4) Check for deposit
5) Copy of building plans (if available
As soon as we receive these items from you, we will call and let you know when you can expect us to do the fieldwork and site work necessary to prepare the maps. We will generally do the exterior site work on one day and then come back a few days later, after we have your building plotted in a drawing and measure the interior spaces. Please note, when we measure the interior spaces we will need someone at the site who has access to all of the spaces on the property (including all units, closets, garages, decks, storage areas, basement areas, yard areas, etc.) and knowledge of which unit will have rights to which spaces and which spaces will be used as common area.
The Tentative Map is a complete survey of the site, showing the property lines, the main building features, adjoining buildings and all of the legal encumbrances (easements and right of ways). The Site Plan shows all of the physical features of the site, including building locations, eaves and overhangs, fences, driveways, walkways, wall, trees and the street and sidewalk information in the City Right of Way. The Floor Plans show the layout of each of the units in the buildings on your site, including all of the rooms, their uses, sizes and any private areas such as decks or patios. The city has very specific requirements for these maps and Bay Area Land Surveying has prepared hundreds of subdivisions in Berkeley so we are very familiar with the format required. The city uses this map to determine if there are any problems with the site. They look at the setbacks, parking, encroachments and various other aspects of the site to make sure it complies with their standards.
The Condominium Plans are the plans that show the airspace divisions of the individual units, the common areas, exclusive use common areas. The city reviews these plans for compliance with their laws, then the Condo Plans are attached to the CC&R’s (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions of your Home Owner’s Association) as an exhibit.
The package you will receive from Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. will include the following items:
A reduced version of the Tentative Map
Engineering Closure calculations
Copies of the maps we used to prepare your survey
The Preliminary Title Report (provided by you)
Your grant deed
The grant deeds of your adjoining properties
The Subdivision application
An invoice for our services
We fill out 90% of the Subdivision Application and you will need to fill out the portions of the application that you are more familiar with as the owner of the site. You will then make an appointment with the Planning Department, meet with them, pay the appropriate fees and give them your completed application and submittal package.
When the city makes their determination and approves your project, they will issue a “Conditions of Approval” letter. This letter will outline in detail all of the things that you need to do to complete the subdivision process. The normal things that are required are:
1) Have Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. prepare the Final Map and Final Condominium Plans.
2) Have an attorney prepare your Home Owners Association documents.
3) Complete any required repairs or updates to the building.
4) Have separate utility meters for each unit. This is usually only necessary for electric, gas and communications.
The Final Map is the map that gets filed at the county to notify the public that a parcel has been subdivided. The Final Map shows the location of the buildings with respect to the property lines and shows the monuments or other survey control that was used to determine the boundary of the property. Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. will prepare a draft version of this map and the supporting documents and provide it to you for the second submittal to the City.
When all of the conditions are met and the agency approves the Final Map, you are ready to have us prepare the Mylar version of the Final Map and sign it. You can then meet at our office and sign the map with our notary, or sign somewhere else in front of a notary public. Some projects require the lender, or the holder of the deed of trust on the property to also sign the map at this time. The map is then delivered to the City Engineers office for their signatures. The city will contact your title company and have them deliver the map to the county for the Tax Assessor’s signature and the County Recorder’s signature. Please keep in mind that the county will not sign the map unless you have paid at least 6 months of taxes for the property in advance. You should have your title company prepare a tax letter that will show the amount of taxes owed and make sure they are paid before you submit the Final Map to the city. The map is then filed in the county records. Your subdivision is finally completed when you file the association documents and the condominium plans.
It is very important to have a good team working for you to complete your subdivision. You want professionals who know the agencies that are going to approve your project and it helps to have an elite team of people who are used to working with each other. Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. has done condominium subdivisions in almost every community in the Bay Area and we have done hundreds of these subdivisions in Berkeley. We have a great working relationship with the planners and engineers at the different agencies who will be reviewing and approving your subdivision as well as the attorneys, financial consultants and title officers who will be working on your behalf to complete your project.