Zoning: Renting Out the Extra Room to Get Easier

A new zoning code set to take effect Sept. 6 will allow property owners in low-density D.C. neighborhoods to create a rentable apartment within their house by right, rather than with a special exception as required under existing regulations. Deemed “accessory dwelling units,” certain other conditions must also be met in addition to standard building codes for safety and space, such as: no more than three occupants in the unit, in addition to three in the home; and the property owner must live there and obtain a Residential Rental Business License.

Accessory dwelling units may also be built out of new and existing accessory buildings, both attached and detached — another loosening of the previous regulation, which only allowed existing structures to be converted — but only with a special exception, which will allegedly be easier to acquire than the previous variance required (though neighbors could still possibly block the exception if during a zoning hearing they can demonstrate that the unit would place an undue burden on them). Units in accessory buildings must also have dedicated access to the street. In addition to the dwelling units, homeowners may also have another garage, art studio or storage area on their property.


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