Is it legal to build an ADU anywhere in Utah?

Sep 27, 2021 | Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) | 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jed Owen on Unsplash

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice, contact an attorney if you have questions regarding building laws that pertain to your property.

Is it legal to build an ADU anywhere in Utah? Before the Utah legislature met in early 2021, many municipalities and counties in Utah had laws preventing the construction of any type of Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). Despite the fact that housing costs were skyrocketing and people were becoming homeless due to affordability issues, homeowners were prevented from adding home offices, granny flats (mother-in-law units), long-term rental units, adult child housing, etc.

Residents complained, and the legislature responded by passing House Bill 82 (Single-family Housing Modifications). The law “requires municipalities and counties to classify certain accessory dwelling units as a permitted land use.” It’s a legalese way of saying cities and counties can’t forbid the building of ADUs. It also limits the restrictions they can set.

ADUs are now permitted land use.

Now homeowners in Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, and other cities, who had laws preventing the building of ADUs, (or no law at all, making building an ADU risky) can now build an ADU on their property. Some cities, like Salt Lake City, were already allowing ADUs. The city offers a guide you can download to learn about eligibility, size, configurations, and more.

HB 82 doesn’t change short term rentals if your municipality doesn’t permit it.

Cities and counties may still impose restrictions, like prohibiting ADUs on lots under 6,000 square feet or prohibiting short-term rentals. It’s also important to note that the law allows municipalities and counties to require certain changes to existing ADUs. Always check with your municipality for the current regulations in your area BEFORE you build.

HB 82 says:

  • modifies and defines terms applicable to municipal and county land use development and management (overrides any ADU bans)
  • allows a municipality or county to punish an individual who lists or offers a certain licensed or permitted accessory dwelling unit as a short-term rental (no airbnb rentals if not allowed)
  • allows municipalities and counties to require specific physical changes to certain accessory dwelling units (changes to existing ADUs to meet code/requirements)
  • in any single-family residential land use zone:
    – requires municipalities and counties to classify certain accessory dwelling units as a permitted land use; and
    – prohibits municipalities and counties from establishing restrictions or requirements for certain accessory dwelling units with limited exceptions (cities cannot forbid ADUs)
  • allows a municipality or county to hold a lien against real property containing certain accessory dwelling units in certain circumstances (not sure what this means)
  • provides for statewide amendments to the International Residential Code related to accessory dwelling units
  • requires the executive director of the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund to establish a two-year pilot program to provide loan guarantees for certain loans related to accessory dwelling units
  • prevents a homeowners association from prohibiting the construction or rental of certain accessory dwelling units

Main takeaways of Utah’s H.B. 82:

  • Acknowledges that there is a real housing crisis and has overridden local ordinances preventing construction of ADUs.
  • Protects homeowners from anti-ADU laws.
  • Doesn’t change existing local codes against short-term rentals.

But before you invest $100,000 or more for a new ADU, check with your city or county for exactly what is required before you hire a contractor or start building. Make sure your contractor checks to make sure the unit they’re building conforms to the local codes.

H.B. 82 doesn’t override any local laws that may exist, forbidding short term rentals, e.g. AirBnb. So if you’re planning on adding an ADU for that type of income generation, check with your city for its laws.

Call us today for a free, no-obligation ADU consultation.

Call 801-577-8394 today for a free estimate or to book an appointment