The ADUs are Coming! Associations Fret Over the Spread of ADUs

There’s a new threat — or opportunity, depending on your perspective — to community associations, and it seems most associations aren’t ready for it. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are being pushed by advocates for affordable housing, the elderly, the environment, and, perhaps most critically, legislators. Are your clients ready?

“It’s the wave of the future,” says Gordon Goetz, president of The Management Trust – Central Coast/Central Valley, which manages about 270 California associations. “But association owners thought they were immune because of governing documents and restrictions.” Governing documents usually limit units to “single-family use.”

With state and local legislators jumping on board the ADU wagon, though, that’s not necessarily the case.

Just what is an ADU? The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines it as a habitable living unit added to, created within, or detached from a single-family dwelling that provides the basic requirements for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation. An ADU is part of the same property as the primary unit and generally can’t be purchased or sold alone.

ADUs typically are limited to 800-900 square feet. Junior ADUs, created by converting existing space such as a garage into a separate residence with at least one bedroom, run smaller. In California, for example, they’re limited to 500 square feet.

The demand for ADUs has skyrocketed, especially in areas where affordable housing is in short supply and younger people are priced out of larger homes. They also can help older people downsize while remaining in their neighborhoods and anyone reduce their environmental footprint.

“Many communities are embracing ADUs and clarifying their architectural guidelines to allow them,” says Jeffrey Beaumont, a partner with Beaumont Tashjian in Woodland Hills, Calif. “Other communities are very, very nervous about the unintended consequences.”

To learn more about the pros and cons of ADUs for community associations, and the options they have when it comes to regulating ADUs, read our new article: The Rise of ADUs: What Does It Mean for Associations?

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey
President