I'm writing a story that takes place in the future, sometime around the 2200s, give or take a few decades. The main characters live in San Francisco, in a repair shop that's been built right on top of an existing house. I've already taken a bunch of photo references and even made schematics of the to-be-made structure on top.

The address is very important to the story; being heavily dependent on the part of SF it's located in, the proximity to the fire station, and the name of the shop sharing the street's. The protagonists' guardians live in the house below the shop, as well. And given the fact that the shop is on top of the building, I can't use a different one.

I could relocate the house, as the type of house I'm using is a city standard "cookie-cutter" type of building, found all over the area, or I could just rename the street, but I'd prefer not to.

Are there any problems I'd run into by using the real-life address if the building is still standing?

  • 1
    Assuming your book becomes a bestseller and made into a movie, I wouldn't want to live in the house your fans come to gawk at. Be responsible.
    – user5645
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 6:46
  • 4
    Whether or not it is legal, I would consider it gravely discourteous to whoever is living at that address. There are usually gaps in street numbers. Simply choose a number that is not in use on the street. Or invent a street name and describe it as being off X between Y and Z where X, Y, and Z are real street names.
    – user16226
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 11:22

2 Answers 2


It depends.

Is it a Residential property?

If it's an actual residential property - i.e. someone lives there. Then, no. Not only is it bad form, but you can get into a lot of trouble - not to mention the possibility of your work going viral and nutters starting to stalk the address - something the residents might be somewhat opposed to - especially without the prior permission.

Is it a well-known landmark/icon?

This would include things like University campuses, famous and iconic buildings (such as The Globe Theatre, Edinburgh Castle, Langley etc), this is generally fine. It's an easily recognizable setting and allows your readers to better connect - however, you do need to ensure that you get the details right otherwise you will be found out.

Is it a commercial property

This can be touch and go. While there should be no problems setting the story at a location, you should be careful to not make sure that a particular business is implicated (for good or for ill). An example of this could be setting a fake company at a commercial office block, or have wreckers yard be set at the right location, but make sure it's clear that it is a fictional business.

Of course, all this should be done with the disclaimer that you are using real-life locations for a fictional story.


Yes, definitely we can not use real time addresses.

Here are 2 issues we need to consider:

  1. If the address is existing, the people who are staying there may be trouble because of your writing.

  2. Its leads to wrong interpretation to the story, if readers know the address previously.

Some people like me will go and search for the address you have mentioned. If your story tells it wrong you will get bad reviews.

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