Will ‘Granny Flats’ Resolve Housing Shortages?

Some housing economists believe that “granny flats” could be the key to alleviating housing shortages across the country, and they are calling on more municipalities to ease up the rules to allow such dwellings to be built on or into more single-family homes. Nicknamed “granny flats,” these accessory dwelling units tend to be separate, cottage-like structures, but may be a converted garage or basement that houses an extra living area.

In California, three new zoning laws in 2017 allowed for expanded development of granny flats. California has since seen a 63 percent increase in the number of building permits for these units—more than any other state, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm. But many counties either still have zoning restrictions that don’t allow these units, or they are making the building permit process difficult.

Source: “Could ‘Granny Flats’ Be the Solution to America’s Affordable-Housing Crisis?” MarketWatch (March 26, 2018)

‘Granny Flats’ Are Finding a Bigger Purpose

Accessory dwelling units are increasingly being used by homeowners to add small secondary housing options on their property. These “granny flats” may be in the form of a converted garage or even a tiny home in an over sized backyard.

As more municipalities look to grant permits for these structures, some hope the trend can help alleviate housing shortages. Many forms of guest houses were deemed illegal in California up until recently. But a new law that took effect at the beginning of this year makes ADUs easier to add, leading to an upswing of these units in the state. If just 10 percent of California’s single-family homeowners added granny flats to their properties, 600,000 new units could be added to the state’s housing supply, according to USMondularInc, a firm that specializes in secondary housing units.

“California is in a housing crisis, and allowing people to modify their existing home or build a small cottage in their backyard will increase the rental supply at no cost to taxpayers,” state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said in a statement late last year.

Source: “Granny Flats Are on the Upswing – and They’re Not Just for Grannies Anymore,” San Gabriel Valley Tribune (Sept. 10, 2017)