© Kratz & Kolasch Real Estate

What is the Legal Definition of a Bedroom?

by Todd Kolasch
September 16, 2019

 

Question: 
What is the legal definition of a bedroom? I have a listing for a condo that the seller told me had two bedrooms. I visited the condo and confirmed that the owner was using the "second bedroom" as a sleeping area. Since it had a closet and a window, I assumed it was a bedroom. On this basis, I marketed the property as a two-bedroom condo. The home inspector later informed the buyer that the other bedroom did not meet the local zoning requirements for a legal bedroom.

Answer: 
The legal definition of a bedroom is determined by the local municipality’s zoning codes. This definition can vary by jurisdiction, building type, and zoning for the particular lot. Assumptions about what constitutes a bedroom can differ substantially from the requirements of the different zoning codes. For example, many people may assume that a room is not a bedroom if it does not have a closet.
The interpretation of these rules can be difficult for those without a background in the construction industry or related trades. For this reason, matters related to the zoning of property are typically considered outside the scope of a real estate agent's licensed area of expertise. Realtors® engaged in the practice of residential brokerage are often not aware of how to interpret the myriad of regulations and special exceptions that make up the zoning codes for local jurisdictions. 

State-Wide Requirements
Here are some requirements for bedrooms that apply state-wide: 
1. Means of Egress:  A bedroom must have two ways to exit: one that leads to the rest of the home and one that leads directly to the outside. In most cases, the outside egress will be a window. A bedroom egress window must be at least 5.7 square feet. It can be no more than 44 inches from the room floor, unless there is a permanent step installed. In addition, it is illegal to have locking bars or grates covering an egress window.
Also, in order to be considered a legal bedroom, its sole entrance must not be through another bedroom. Finally, the bedroom must have access to a bathroom without going through another bedroom. 
2. Closet:  Contrary to popular belief, Virginia has no closet requirement for a bedroom.
3. Square Footage:  The minimum size of a bedroom is 70 square feet. If more than one person occupies the room, there must be 50 square feet per occupant.
4. Ceiling Height:  Ceiling height must be no less than 7 feet.
5. Heating and Ventilation:  Every bedroom must have access to natural ventilation (i.e. to the outside air), and must have a heat source. Portable heaters do not count as an adequate heat source.

LOCAL ZONING OFFICES:
If you are still unsure how to categorize a specific room, here are additional resources:
City of Alexandria Department of Planning and Zoning .........................703.838.4666
Arlington County Department of Planning, Housing and Development ....703.228.3883
Public Works and Environmental Services for Fairfax County/Building Plan Review Office ...............................................................................................703.222.0114
City of Fairfax Community Development and Planning ..........................703.385.7930
City of Falls Church Zoning Division ....................................................703.248.5015
Town of Herndon Department of Community Development .....................703.787.7380
Town of Vienna Planning and Zoning Department ..................................703.255.6341W

Todd Owns NoVA Real Estate
Kratz & Kolasch Real Estate | Associate Brokers
Samson Properties, LLC

361 Maple Ave. West
Suite #100
Vienna, VA 22180

© Kratz & Kolasch Real Estate

© Kratz & Kolasch Real Estate
Powered by ListingsToGo™
Like
Favorites
Log Out
Log In