Accessory Dwelling Units
Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, have gained popularity in recent years for many reasons. They are a great source of additional income, which just about everyone can get excited about! Additionally, they can be used to house family members, whether they’re aging parents or adult children. They can also provide caretaker housing for people who want to remain at home but might need a bit of extra help to do so. Anyone who is in need of housing, family or otherwise, can benefit – and you get the added bonus of having separate spaces to call your own, plus the take-home cash every month.
So what exactly is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?
Basically, it’s a smaller unit that’s independent of the primary dwelling space on a property. It can be a stand alone unit, or something as simple as an apartment above your garage. It’s located on the same property, and typically can’t be sold separately from your home (e.g. it’s not on an adjacent lot).
Different areas have different regulations governing ADUs (more on this later). But almost all ADU regulations require them to have a foundation, so a tiny home on wheels wouldn’t count (though they serve a very similar purpose).
This affordable housing opportunity is beneficial to all parties involved. Since it provides extra income for the homeowner and lower cost for the tenant or family member, it stimulates the local economy by putting extra dollars back in people’s hands. It also allows neighborhoods to house a greater number of people, modestly increasing the density of those that support the local market.
These units are relatively cheap to construct. They don’t require homeowners to purchase new land or infrastructure, and they can sometimes use existing structures for a part of their creation.
This sounds great, right? So why doesn’t everybody have one?
Unfortunately, there are some obstacles associated with AUDs that make this process a bit trickier. For one, lots of homeowners are creating short term rentals, such as Airbnb units and the like. These have put lots of pressure on local hotels, which has created some backlash. Hotels create jobs, and the less capacity they have, the less staff they need to employ, which cuts down on the number of people they hire.
Also, many of these shorter term rentals are not inspected, which can be detrimental to the consumer. Unlicensed and improperly licenced short-term rentals can also bring risk to the homeowner. Knowing how to successfully rent out your property and making sure you have the legal protections in place is essential.
In bigger areas, AUDs can also cause overloading of schools and parking, as well as more noise and debris. Luckily for us, these are not major concerns in our small community.
Figuring out if your property qualifies to have an ADU is not a hard process. But it does take some research, including talking to the right people.
Though they may not be a thrilling read, local zoning codes are your friend when it comes to ADUs. Their legal framework is created by local leaders and administrators that are experts in Lander real estate. Since ADUs have exploded in popularity recently, codes and regulations are still trying to catch up.
Currently, Lander allows for two permitted dwellings on R5 lots. Unfortunately, this is the only type of lot that allows them at this time. But there is good news: planners are reviewing this code to see if changes need to be made in order to fit our local housing needs.
There is a great deal of demand for housing in Lander, and we are constantly trying to keep up with the growth. If you’re looking to add an ADU to your property, call your local officials. Ask them all about the regulations where you are located, and see what you can do to help facilitate a positive change!