The Legal Definition of a Bedroom in Massachusetts
Author Bill Gassett owns Maximum Real Estate Exposure.
When selling a home, accurate representation is critical. If you advertise your home incorrectly, the listing agent and homeowner could potentially be sued by a buyer for misrepresentation.
One of the more common errors in real estate sales is advertising more bedrooms in a home than you actually "legally" have. The word legal is key. A room must pass the sniff test to be marketed as a bedroom.
Yes, legal bedroom requirements in real estate need to be followed. We will explore what you need to know to avoid getting caught in hot water when marketing your property.
When you're done reading, you'll have a more in-depth understanding of what is considered a bedroom and its legal definition.
Why Does Accurate Bedroom Representation Even Matter?
Understanding the distinction between a room designated as a bedroom and one that isn't is crucial for homeowners, especially those planning to sell their property in the future. Potential buyers highly value bedrooms and can significantly increase a home's market value.
By overstating bedroom counts, sellers can deceive potential home buyers.
It's essential to understand that not all rooms can be considered bedrooms, as they must meet specific requirements, such as having an adequate size window.
Therefore, it's essential to be aware of what constitutes a proper bedroom to ensure that the value of your house is not underestimated or misrepresented.
National and local building codes are in place to ensure the safety and accuracy of advertised bedrooms in homes. These codes outline specific requirements for a room to qualify as a legitimate bedroom. The requirements ensure that bedrooms are safe and suitable for sleeping in.
Bedrooms Must Meet Minimum Size Standards in Massachusetts
The International Residential Code (IRC) provides specific guidelines for the size of bedrooms in residential buildings. While individual states may have slightly different room codes and regulations, bedrooms generally follow the standards outlined in the IRC.
For a room to meet the criteria of a proper bedroom, it must have a minimum of 70 square feet of floor space, with at least one direction measuring 7 feet. This measurement ensures the room can accommodate standard bedroom furniture, such as a bed, dresser, and nightstand.
If the room is intended for multiple occupants, it must have a minimum of 50 square feet per person. This ensures that each occupant has enough personal space and can comfortably fit their belongings within the room.
A Minimum Ceiling Height
Did you know that a low ceiling could prevent a room from being officially recognized as a bedroom? Some states have regulations stipulating that at least 50% of a bedroom's ceiling must be at least 7 feet tall for it to be considered a legitimate sleeping space.
A Means of Egress
A bedroom must have a means of emergency exit and a regular entrance. If a bedroom doesn't have a door that leads outside, it should have a window that meets certain requirements.
The window must be at least 24 inches tall and 20 inches wide, with an opening area of 5.7 square feet. It should also be situated no more than 44 inches from the floor unless there's a step or other installation to make it easily accessible. Additionally, the window should be able to open at least halfway.
There Must Be Heat
For a room to be called a bedroom, there must be a heating source. A room without heat cannot be legally marketed as a bedroom.
The Closet Fallacy
For as long as I've been a real estate agent, which is thirty-seven years and counting, there has been the misconception that a room needs a closet to be called a bedroom. This is false.
You do not need a closet for a room to be called a bedroom.
Don't Get Caught With Misrepresentation of Bedrooms if You Have a Septic System
When selling a home with a septic system, it's essential to understand that the number of bedrooms advertised must be per the system's capacity.
Septic systems are designed to accommodate a certain number of bedrooms based on the assumption that each bedroom will have a certain number of occupants and generate a certain amount of wastewater. This information is the "septic as-built or title V if one has been done.
If a home is advertised as having more bedrooms than the septic system is designed to handle, it can lead to major problems down the line.
For example, if a septic system is designed to handle three bedrooms, but the property is advertised as having four, it may not be able to accommodate the extra occupants and wastewater generated. This can lead to backups, odors, and other health hazards. The cost of a septic replacement isn't cheap.
In addition to the potential health hazards, advertising more bedrooms than the septic system can handle can also result in legal issues. If a buyer purchases a home based on the advertised number of bedrooms and later discovers that the septic system cannot handle the actual number of occupants, they may have grounds for a lawsuit.
To avoid these problems, it's essential to accurately represent the number of bedrooms in a home based on the septic system's capacity.
Final Thoughts on Legal Bedrooms
It is always critical to market and advertises a home accurately. The number of bedrooms is one area of real estate where mistakes can be made. It is essential to educate yourself as to the legality of a bedroom.
Did you enjoy this advice on what is considered a bedroom in Massachusetts? See other real estate articles on NewsBreak for more timely tips and advice. Bill often writes about general real estate, mortgages, finance, moving, and home improvement.