Sellers face conversion of illegal unit

5 issues dictate whether fix is required

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DEAR BERNICE: We purchased our home a number of years ago. The previous owner converted the garage to mother-in-law quarters without a permit. It has a stove, refrigerator and a separate bath. Our agent is telling us that we have to convert it back to a garage. Is this really necessary? --Wanda B. DEAR WANDA: This is a very difficult situation. The answer to your question is "maybe." Please investigate the following issues: 1. Check the permits on the property. It's important to know whether a permit exists for the garage addition. For example, if there is a stove or plumbing, were the proper electrical and gas permits pulled for those installations? When we had a water heater that went out, the company that installed it pulled the permit for us. We didn't have to do anything. 2. Depending on your location, not having a permit can mean big trouble. Some places have no building code, no permits and no inspections. You are free to do whatever you choose. On the o...