ADUs: A tool for affordable housing not just in urban areas, but in rural areas too

Washington REALTORS® (WR) has made the authorization of Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in rural areas a top priority in 2021.

Detached ADUs are separate small residential units that provide affordable housing for renters and makes property ownership more affordable, while providing additional options for younger and older family members who wish to remain together.

“We need to clarify the law and make clear that ADUs are in fact allowed and should be a tool for affordable housing in rural areas just like they are in our urban areas,” said Nathan Gorton, WR Government Affairs Director.

Current “law” (from the Growth Management Hearings Boards) prevents detached ADUs in rural areas by including them in rural density calculations. SB 5221 would clarify that such ADUs are not included in rural density calculations if the units meet specific limitations on size, location, and appearance.

“ADUs are key part of solving our housing dilemma, both in and outside of our built-out Urban Growth Area,” said Rich Bergdahl, 2019 SKCR President. “With younger first-time homebuyers and older down-sizers now forced to purchase outside the UGA, ADU development needs to be encouraged in rural areas to increase availability and maintain affordability for this segment of the population.”

SB 5221 and HB 1298 address this effort. REALTORS® spoke with senators and representatives during Legislative Days and they expressed much interest and look forward to a healthy debate on these bills.

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