Yes! You can build a Granny Flat! (And rent it out!)

Back in July, we talked about the possibility of building an additional dwelling unit on a lot that is zoned for a single family home. It's a question many people ask, and a desire many homeowners have. Maybe they want to move their in-law in. Maybe they're looking to generate some rental income. 

Well, good news! You can do both! 

NOTE: THIS IS PER CITY OF LOS ANGELES, ALTHOUGH SURROUNDING CITIES ARE SIMILAR. CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL BUILDING DEPT FOR MORE PRECISE INFO WHERE YOU LIVE.

DID THE LAW CHANGE?

Yes and no. It's a bit more in-depth than that, and if you're really interested in getting into the weeds on this, go here. The important thing is that due to changes in California State law, you can build a legal Accessory Dwelling Unit, and yes, you can rent it out.

    LET'S REVIEW THE UPDATED GROUND RULES:

    • ADU's - ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS - This is the official term for what we are calling Granny Flats.
    • ZONING - An ADU can be on any lot zoned for residential use.
    • QUANTITY - Only 1 per lot. The lot MUST contain an existing single family dwelling unit. That means you can't build one on a lot that has a duplex on it (or any other multi-family building).
    • HILLSIDE - ADUs are not allowed on lots defined as Hillside (This is an L.A. law...check your city).
    • SALE - You cannot sell an ADU separately. 
    • RENTAL - You can rent it out. FYI, if you're thinking of using it for AirBNB purposes, check your city. The City of Los Angeles specifically prohibits this. Also, it's not specifically stated that the owner must reside in either the main house, or the ADU....again, check your local jurisdiction.
    • ATTACHED or DETACHED: The ADU can be either. If it is DETACHED, a passageway (or "connection") between the two is NOT required.
    • SETBACKS - Most structures in the City of LA cannot lie within the front, side, and rear setbacks. This is to allow for minimum fire separation distances primarily, but also enhances privacy, practicality, etc.
    • GARAGE CONVERSIONS - This is a big one!!
      • If you convert a garage, it can remain within the setbacks.
      • If you build above the garage, it must be at least 5ft away from both side and rear yards. 
    • PARKING - 1 additional parking spot is required, but there are exemptions.

    as for the ADU itself:

    1. DETACHED ADUs:
      1. SIZE: 640 SF or 50% of total floor area of the existing single-family unit, however, the maximum size is 1,200 SF no matter what. 
      2. LOCATION: Cannot be located between the primary single-family unit and the street.
    2. ATTACHED ADUs:
      1. SIZE: Cannot increase total floor area by more  than 1,200 SF.
      2. LOCATION: Can be attached to or completely within the existing single-family unit.
      3. UTILITIES: ADUs are not considered new residential uses for purposes of calculating fees, capacity, etc for water and sewer service.

    If you're interested:

    If you've been dreaming about building that guest casita in the back, or finally giving that college age child that never seems to move out to a place of his or her own, let us know. We'll try and help you achieve that goal.