What are Accessory Dwelling Units, and How Do They Affect Planned Communities?

The housing market is continuously in flux. New housing products, designs, and concepts are constantly entering neighborhoods and forcing Americans to rethink what community living means and looks like. Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADU”) are nothing new. The concept has been around for some time. Think the mother-in-law suite built behind the principal structure or potentially an efficiency apartment built above a detached garage. 

In Greensboro, NC, for example, ADUs are permitted in all residential zoning districts so long as they meet certain additional planning standards:

  • Accessory Dwelling Units
  • Unless otherwise expressly stated, all accessory dwelling units must meet the requirements that apply to principal uses in the subject zoning district. The primary dwelling must be located on a lot that meets the minimum area requirements of the zoning district.
  • The owner of the property must occupy either the primary or the accessory dwelling.
  • Only one accessory dwelling is allowed.
  • The accessory dwelling may be located within the primary dwelling; however, if it is detached, it must meet the location and dimensional requirements of the principal structure.
  • The heated floor area of the accessory dwelling must be at least 400 square feet in area, but it may not exceed 30% of the floor area of the primary dwelling.
  • If the accessory dwelling is proposed for location on a single-family property, the property must retain a single-family appearance from the street.
  • One additional off-street parking space must be provided.
  • Use of a travel trailer or recreational vehicle (RV) as an accessory dwelling is prohibited within a residential district or on property devoted to residential use.

The use of ADUs and the development of planned communities containing ADU structures may increase in response to the current housing market and certain lack of housing options for American families. Various cities, including Raleigh and Charlotte, have recently worked to make the usage of ADUs easier for their citizens as a response to housing shortages, particularly affordable housing. Some may find this a welcome change, while others may be nervous about what that may mean for their community. 

While ADUs may see increased popularity and while municipalities may continue to ease ordinance restrictions on their existence, planned communities continue to have a certain level of additional control through their recorded covenants, so long as they do not run afoul of state, federal, or local law. Should ADU usage become more widespread and common, I imagine we will see a natural response from planned communities throughout the country regarding ADU’s impact and potential further regulation. 

The community association and land use attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas continue to monitor housing trends and are able to assist with questions you may have regarding ADU usage.  

HOA & Condo Associations Real Estate