Key ADU Laws in California for 2024

California has faced a persistent housing shortage, driving up costs and making it difficult for many residents to find affordable housing. In response, the state has turned to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as a practical solution. ADUs can be built on single-family or multi-family residential properties, utilizing underutilized spaces such as backyards, garages, or basements. Their relatively low cost and minimal impact on existing infrastructure make them an attractive option for increasing housing supply. 

ADUs offer a range of benefits for potential home buyers, making them an attractive option for those entering the housing market. Here’s how ADUs can enhance the home buying experience:

1. Affordability and Rental Income

One of the most significant benefits of ADUs is the potential for rental income. By renting out the ADU, homeowners can generate additional income to help cover mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs. This additional revenue stream can make homeownership more affordable and financially sustainable.

2. Increased Property Value

ADUs can significantly increase the overall value of a property. Buyers may find homes with ADUs more attractive due to their versatility and potential for generating income. This can lead to a higher resale value and a better return on investment.

3. Flexible Living Arrangements

ADUs provide flexible living arrangements that can accommodate various family needs. They can serve as housing for elderly parents, adult children, or extended family members, allowing for multigenerational living while maintaining privacy. This flexibility makes ADUs a practical solution for changing family dynamics.

4. Work-from-Home Space

In the current era of remote work, ADUs can be an ideal solution for creating a dedicated home office or workspace. This separation from the main living area can enhance productivity and provide a quiet environment for work or study.

5. Sustainable Living

ADUs often promote more sustainable living practices. They typically require less energy to heat and cool compared to larger homes, contributing to lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint. Additionally, ADUs can make efficient use of existing urban spaces, reducing the need for new construction on undeveloped land.

6. Community and Neighborhood Stability

ADUs can contribute to community stability by increasing the availability of affordable rental units in established neighborhoods. This can help prevent displacement of long-term residents due to rising housing costs and support a diverse and vibrant community.

7. Low-Cost Housing Solution

For home buyers who need additional housing for family members or want to live close to loved ones, ADUs offer a cost-effective solution. Building an ADU is often less expensive than purchasing a separate property, providing an affordable way to expand living space.

8. Future-Proof Investment

As housing trends continue to evolve, properties with ADUs are likely to remain in high demand. This makes ADUs a future-proof investment that can adapt to various housing needs over time, whether for personal use or rental purposes.

California continues to lead the way in innovative housing solutions, particularly with Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). In 2024, several beneficial laws and regulations have been implemented to streamline the ADU development process, making it easier for homeowners and developers to add these valuable units. Here's a comprehensive look at the key ADU laws in California for 2024 and how they can benefit you.

Streamlined Permitting

One of the most significant changes is the requirement for local agencies to act on ADU applications within 60 days. This streamlined permitting process reduces the waiting time for approvals, allowing you to start your ADU project sooner.

  • Law: Senate Bill 1069 (SB 1069)
  • Reference: SB 1069 mandates that local agencies must act on ADU applications within 60 days from the date the application is deemed complete.
  • Details: SB 1069 Text

Ministerial Approval

ADUs that meet specific criteria must be approved ministerially. This means they do not require discretionary review or hearings, which can often delay projects. As long as your ADU complies with the set standards, approval is straightforward and predictable.

  • Laws: Senate Bill 1069 (SB 1069), Assembly Bill 2299 (AB 2299), Assembly Bill 68 (AB 68)
  • References: These laws require local governments to approve ADUs ministerially if they meet specific criteria, bypassing discretionary review and public hearings.
  • Details: SB 1069 Text, AB 2299 Text, AB 68 Text

Increased Size Limits

California has increased the size limits for ADUs. Detached ADUs can now be up to 1,200 square feet, providing ample space for comfortable living. Attached ADUs can be up to 50% of the existing or proposed primary residence's floor area, ensuring they fit seamlessly into the property.

  • Law: Assembly Bill 68 (AB 68)
  • Reference: AB 68 allows for detached ADUs up to 1,200 square feet and attached ADUs up to 50% of the existing or proposed primary residence's floor area.
  • Details: AB 68 Text

Reduced Parking Requirements

Parking requirements for ADUs have been relaxed. No parking is required if your ADU is located within half a mile of public transit or in a designated historic district. This makes it easier to develop ADUs in urban areas where parking space is limited.

  • Law: Senate Bill 1069 (SB 1069)
  • Reference: SB 1069 reduces parking requirements for ADUs, especially in areas close to public transit or within designated historic districts.
  • Details: SB 1069 Text

Multi-Family Properties

Owners of multi-family properties can now convert non-livable spaces, such as garages or storage rooms, into multiple ADUs. This regulation helps increase the housing supply in densely populated areas without the need for new land.

  • Law: Assembly Bill 68 (AB 68)
  • Reference: AB 68 permits the conversion of non-livable spaces in multi-family properties into multiple ADUs.
  • Details: AB 68 Text

Junior ADUs (JADUs)

Junior ADUs (JADUs) are smaller units, up to 500 square feet, contained entirely within the walls of an existing or proposed single-family residence. The simplified permitting process and exemption from impact fees make JADUs an attractive option for homeowners looking to add living space for family members or renters.

  • Law: Assembly Bill 68 (AB 68)
  • Reference: AB 68 provides regulations for Junior ADUs, which are up to 500 square feet and contained within the existing structure.
  • DetailsAB 68 Text

Owner Occupancy Requirements

Many jurisdictions have eliminated owner-occupancy requirements for new ADUs until at least 2025. This change encourages more investment and development by allowing homeowners to rent out both the primary residence and the ADU.

  • Law: Assembly Bill 3182 (AB 3182)
  • Reference: AB 3182 eliminates owner-occupancy requirements for new ADUs until at least 2025.
  • Details: AB 3182 Text

Impact Fees

ADUs under 750 square feet are exempt from impact fees, significantly reducing the cost of development. For larger ADUs, the fees are proportionately scaled based on the ADU’s size relative to the primary dwelling, making them more affordable.

  • Law: Assembly Bill 68 (AB 68)
  • Reference: AB 68 exempts ADUs under 750 square feet from impact fees and scales fees for larger ADUs proportionately.
  • DetailsAB 68 Text

Separate Utility Connections

Local agencies cannot require a new or separate utility connection for ADUs built within the existing space of a primary residence or accessory structure. This regulation reduces the complexity and cost of connecting utilities to your ADU.

  • Law: Senate Bill 1069 (SB 1069)
  • Reference: SB 1069 prevents local agencies from requiring new or separate utility connections for ADUs built within the existing primary residence or accessory structure.
  • DetailsSB 1069 Text

Housing Accountability Act (HAA)

The Housing Accountability Act (HAA) has been strengthened to limit local governments' ability to deny ADU projects that comply with applicable objective standards. This ensures more consistent approval of ADU projects, giving homeowners and developers greater confidence in their investments.

  • Law: Assembly Bill 72 (AB 72)
  • Reference: AB 72 strengthens the Housing Accountability Act to limit local governments' ability to deny ADU projects that comply with applicable objective standards.
  • Details: AB 72 Text

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These beneficial ADU laws in California for 2024 make it easier and more affordable to develop ADUs, providing a practical solution to the state's housing shortage. Whether you're a homeowner looking to add extra living space or a developer aiming to increase housing options, these regulations offer a clear and supportive framework for your projects.

Start planning your ADU project today and take advantage of these favorable laws to unlock your property's full potential.

For more information on ADU development and other real estate insights, contact me at (916) 370-1803 or email [email protected].

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