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With intentions to turn property into duplex, city says not so fast

2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago Monday, June 24 2024 Jun 24, 2024 June 24, 2024 7:12 PM June 24, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Confusion over a permit could cost one man thousands of dollars.

Rich Knecht, a contractor, says he's having trouble with the permitting office after fixing up a house, with intentions to rent it out as a duplex. The city is saying he doesn't have permission to do so.

"It would have been nice if they told me that in the beginning, I wouldn't have spent all this money separating everything," Knecht said.

The house, which has been sitting vacant since the 2016 flood, has been completely redone from top to bottom. The property has a new roof, insulation, wiring, flooring, cabinets, tiling, and the whole nine yards. Knecht says he got about 90 percent done with the project and was told his plan to turn it into a duplex is not allowed.

The city says the contractor doesn't have the right permit and the house cannot be a duplex. The city says once it noticed the property was being turned into two units, it told Knecht it couldn't be done because it's not zoned for two units.

Knecht says the city has known about his plans from the beginning and even got the paperwork to change the address.

"It cost me a fortune and then he told me, no it can't be done," Knecht said.

The property was purchased in 2020 and Knecht has steadily been having inspections ever since. The house has two of everything - two kitchens, two electrical panels, and two water meters. Now he fears the money and time he put into the place will be for nothing.

"Now I have an over-sized house with two kitchens, two laundries, two of everything and I can only charge so much for it," he said.

The city says when the property owner called for a gas test inspection, an inspector saw that the house was set up for a duplex and informed Knecht he would need a separate permit. The property owner applied for and was issued a second gas permit as well as a second address for the property.

While the city admits the gas permit was issued in error, the property has several more steps to take to establish a two-family dwelling. The gas permit has since been voided.

Knecht now has the option to go to planning to see if the property zoning can be changed to allow for a duplex. His other option is to revert the property to a single-family house.

Knecht hopes his investment won't be a flop, but if he has to turn the house back into a single-family property he could face a loss of about $1,000 a month.

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