Washington, DC’s Tiny House Population May be Ready To Explode

May 17, 2016

A new zoning code in Washington, D.C. made it much easier for homeowners to get the necessary approval to build, rent, and buy tiny houses, The Washington Post reports. The goal is to increase the stock of affordable housing in a relatively unaffordable city.

No longer will homeowners who want to rent out accessory dwelling units on their property have to take their cases before the Board of Zoning Adjustment to receive an exception. Now, under the new rule, some neighborhoods will allow the structures as a matter of right. All homeowners need to do is acquire building permits from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and they will be able to build and rent out their units.

There are some rules, however, for anyone who is interested in building a separate unit. First, the tiny houses cannot be more than 35 percent of the gross floor area of the primary home, the primary home must be at least 1,200 square feet (or 2,000 square feet in some areas), and they cannot be more than 300 feet from a main road. Additionally, the main home on the property must be owner-occupied.

While it may seem like a lot, these restrictions are actually much more lenient and reasonable that before. Advocates of tiny homes and the use of accessory dwelling units as affordable housing believe the new zoning code will lead to units appearing on properties across the city, or, at least in the areas of the city the zoning code changes cover, primarily R-1, R-2, and R-3 zones.

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