Can I Rent Both My Main Residence and ADU?


Some cities have an ordinance that requires homeowners with an ADU to live in either the main residence or ADU in order to rent one of the units. These owner-occupancy rules were a disincentive to homeowners who wanted to add an ADU and rent both units. However, the new 2020 California ADU laws override the owner-occupancy rule of local ordinances for five years. ADUs that are permitted from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2024 are exempt from the owner-occupancy restriction. These new 2020 laws only apply to new ADU construction. If a homeowner already has a permitted ADU in a city with an owner-occupancy law, then they must live on the property in order to rent out one of the units.

An important factor to consider is whether the homeowner wants to build a regular ADU or a special type of ADU – a junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) – which is constructed within the structure of the main residence. After the new 2020 California ADU laws were passed, it was unclear whether the five-year owner-occupancy moratorium applied to both ADUs and JADUs. (On page 36 of my book How to Build an In-Law Unit in California, I stated that there was uncertainty about this). After I submitted my manuscript for publication, I found out that the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) interpretation of the laws is that the moratorium only applies to ADUs, not JADUs. Therefore, a homeowner with a JADU must live in either the main residence or the JADU. It is possible that this could change in the future, but for now, this is the way that the HCD is interpreting the law.

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