VA Minimum Property Requirements for Multi-Family Units
The borrower must certify he or she intends to live in one of those units as the primary residence and the property cannot have more than 25% of the floor space dedicated to commercial use, but multi-family units are an option under a VA home loan for qualified borrowers.
Naturally, VA minimum property requirements are different for buildings with more than one unit — after all, the living conditions require different considerations than for single-family dwellings. The VA has rules that insure the privacy and accessibility for each unit on the property; for example, all utilities must be kept separate.
There are some exceptions for this rule for flexibility’s sake. The VA lender’s guide states “Utility services must be independent for each living unit” with the following exceptions:
Living units under a single mortgage or ownership may share water, sewer, gas, or electricity as long as there are separate service shut-offs for each unit,
Living units under separate ownership may share connections from the main to the building line when those connections are protected by
– easement or covenant, and
– a maintenance agreement acceptable to VA.
The minimum property requirements for utilities also include a rule stating that, generally speaking, those utilities can’t pass “over, under or through” any other unit without “a legal provision for permanent right of access for maintenance and repair of the utilities without trespass on adjoining properties.”
VA minimum property requirements do allow for some shared spaces on the property–the building can have a common facility for laundry or storage, and heating equipment for all units can be co-located. But when it comes to the individual privacy of each unit, VA minimum property requirements are clear — each one should be a completely separate and self-contained space from the rest. Properties that require one tenant to pass through another tenant’s space to reach their own dwelling, for example, would not meet VA standards.
Specifically, the VA Lender’s Handbook says, “Access to the living unit must be provided without passing through any other living unit. Each living unit must be able to be used and maintained individually without trespass upon adjoining properties.”