What Is An In-Law Apartment?

In-law apartments, also called mother-in-law apartments or secondary suites, are becoming increasingly common in the United States — up 30 percent from 2000 to 2010. These kinds of apartments are created when grown children build private space on their own property for their aging parents. Legally, an in-law apartment is called an accessory dwelling unit — an additional separate living space located on a property where only one unit would normally be. In-law apartments are usually not part of the home’s original design and are added to existing parts of the home.

Types of In-law Apartments

An in-law apartment might be an apartment over a garage or a basement suite. Other variations are dwellings attached to a single-family home or a living space completely detached from the home, like a small guest house. Legally, an in-law apartment must have its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom and living space. Common space, such as laundry rooms and living rooms, are usually allowed. The living space is generally anywhere from 300 to 700 square feet.

Zoning Issues

In many areas, in-law apartments are not legal because they violate the zoning ordinances of the community. Some homeowners develop these apartments without proper permits and without obeying building codes. Communities that allow in-law apartments place restrictions on who can live there, limiting occupancy to direct relatives. These restrictions usually forbid the homeowners from renting the in-law apartment to an unrelated tenant.

Community Impact

Primary concerns about in-law apartments include parking problems, overcrowding, increased traffic and aesthetic impact on a neighborhood. On the positive side, in-law apartments can be a source of low-income housing for a community. Extra income from renting an in-law apartment — where this is permitted — can benefit the homeowner and the community.

Building an In-law Apartment

Depending on the community, an in-law apartment can be an asset or a liability when it comes to home values. If accessory dwellings are allowed in the community, homeowners can generally qualify for home improvement loans to finance the construction or remodel. Homeowners should look up the zoning laws in their neighborhoods to ensure they’re complying with the law. A certified contractor can provide answers on the logistics of construction, such as whether new utility lines are needed.

This information was found at Homeguides Online. Check this site out for more details.