Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, August 11, 2016
Small homes built in home owners backyards for aging parents or as rentals – often dubbed “granny flats” – are facing an increasing number of lawsuits in some cities.
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The “granny flat” battle is particularly heating up in the city of Los Angeles, which recently brought permits for second units on single-family lots to a halt. City officials had given the owners permission to build them but they now won’t give the owners certificate of occupancy. Utilities, therefore, won’t connect these units to the power grid either.
Proponents of “granny flats” say they help ease housing shortages and provide a more affordable solution to aging seniors, particularly in high-priced areas. However, some critics are protesting the second units entering their neighborhoods, arguing that they spoil the character of the neighborhood. They also fear that more residents on one lot will translate to less parking.
The resistance has made these second-home units increasingly difficult to build across the U.S., and in some cases, even illegal.
For example, some local ordinances in California have made these second-home units nearly impossible to build. Pasadena requires 15,000-square-foot lots to build them. Some other cities have requirements for additional covered parking spots for each unit as well as utility hookup fees that could stretch to tends of thousands of dollars, The Washington Post reports.
On the other hand, a few cities are easing restrictions to make second units more doable. For example, Washington, D.C., updated its zoning code this year to include a change that makes it easier for more home owners to build and rent out second homes.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he wants to remove some of the barriers to these second units because he feels it could help make the city more affordable to some residents.
“We are determined to add needed units to communities without changing the look and feel of our neighborhoods,” Garcetti told The Washington Post. “The extra rental income could make the difference for a potential home owner between affording a mortgage or not.”
Source: “The Next Big Fight Over Housing Could Happen, Literally, in Your Back Yard,” The Washington Post (Aug. 7, 2016)