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Why I Prefer Side-by-Side Duplex Investment Properties

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I own investment properties spanning duplexes, triplexes, and quads, but whenever I am asked what my ideal property is, I always say a side-by-side duplex.  As I will discuss below, side-by-side duplexes are easier to manage compared to triplexes or quads, yet they still fall into the 2-4 unit multifamily sweet spot and hence they offer multiple income streams without the added burden of being labeled a “commercial” property.

One reason a duplex is easier to manage is that you will generally have fewer inspection requirements.  For example, although some states are probably different, in my state (New Jersey) any property with 3 or more units must endure a state inspection every 5 years.  And of course the state inspectors always find “problems” because that is what they are paid to do, so every time I receive a state inspection it costs me time and money.  My triplexes and quads must receive these state inspections, but my duplexes are off the hook. 

Another benefit of side-by-side duplexes is that there is no second-story apartment.  Most of my triplexes have 1 or 2 apartments upstairs, which leads to a whole set of problems.  For example, inevitably the downstairs tenants will complain about the noise that the upstairs tenants are making.  This often results in me having to be a mediator, which is never fun.  Additionally, if a pipe in an upstairs apartment breaks, the water will damage the apartment underneath as well.  Yes, my landlord insurance might cover the damage, but it would be better for it not to happen in the first place.  Obviously, this problem is eliminated with a side-by-side duplex.

Finally, there is generally less liability and risk with side-by-side units.  Because there is no second floor, there is no risk of a small child falling out the upstairs window and getting hurt.  Also, not having an upstairs unit is generally safer in emergency situations, such as a fire.

So, those are my primary reasons for preferring side-by-side duplexes.  They are subject to fewer inspection requirements, and they are safer and easier to manage.  Plus, you still get the benefit of 2 income streams, so when one of the units is vacant at least you will still have the rent coming in from the other unit.  All in all, it’s a true win!

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