Can HOAs Legally Block Your Plans for Building an ADU?

Learn if your Homeowners Association can stop you from building a secondary unit on your property. Read our blog post to find out about potential limitations and restrictions.

Multitaskr Blogs neighborhood with new ADU 2023

ADU construction can be complicated by the regulations and restrictions imposed by Homeowners Associations (HOAs).

Fernanda Castillo

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have become a hot topic in California, with many homeowners looking to build additional living spaces on their properties. Their popularity has been boosted by recent legislative changes in the state, which have made it easier for homeowners to add ADUs to their properties, resulting in a surge of interest and demand for these units.


What are HOAs and ADUs?


HOAs and ADUs in California


Assembly Bill 670

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However, homeowners looking to build an ADU may face obstacles when building these units due to regulations and restrictions imposed by Homeowners Associations (HOAs).

But can HOAs stop you from building an Accessory Dwelling Unit? The answer is no.

Multitaskr Blogs neighborhood and homeowner with new ADU currently the year

What are HOAs and ADUs?

What is an ADU?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), also known as casitas or granny flats, is a secondary living space that can be either attached or detached from the primary residence. They are usually used to provide housing to family members or guests, generate extra income by renting the space, and even for long-term or short-term rental purposes.

Want to know more about ADUs? Check out our blog with the most frequently asked questions about them!

Homeowner Associations

HOA stands for Homeowner Association, and they regulate communities, neighborhoods, condominium buildings, etc. These organizations are responsible for enforcing the compliance of the rules set over the community members and have the authority to impose fines or other types of penalties for violations.

So how do they work? When a homeowner purchases a property in a zoning district with an HOA, they become a member of the association. They are expected to follow the rules ranging from landscaping requirements to architectural guidelines; this means that, for example, if a homeowner wishes to paint their house in a different color, they may or may not be allowed to do it according to their HOA, as most of the times, the association strives to keep a cohesive aesthetic of the neighborhood or community.

HOAs and ADUs in California

The benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units are numerous, especially in California, where the cost of housing is among the highest in the country. By building an ADU, homeowners can generate additional rental income, offset some of the costs associated with homeownership, serve as a space to work from home or pursue hobbies, provide affordable housing options, and contribute to reliving the housing crisis in the state!

However, despite the many benefits of ADUs and the support that they have received from the government, homeowners may face obstacles when building these units due to regulations and restrictions imposed by Homeowners Associations (HOAs).

Multitaskr Blogs neighborhood and homeowner with new ADU 23

A few of the concerns that have risen in the past few years from HOAs regarding the construction of ADUs are the following:

  • Increased traffic: More units with tenants may imply that traffic in the area will increase, causing safety hazards or congestion in the neighborhood.
  • Parking: Adding an ADU to a property - especially if the project is a garage conversion with rental purposes in mind - means more cars will need a parking place. More cars equals less space and more crowded streets.
  • Noise: ADUs can cause noise disturbances, especially if rented out to tenants who may have different lifestyles or schedules from other residents in the neighborhood.
  • Property values: There may be concerns that the presence of ADUs may decrease the value of the properties in the neighborhood, especially if they are not well-maintained or if they are rented out to undesirable tenants.
  • Privacy: Neighborhoods composed of one-level homes may be against two-level ADUs or over-the-garage conversions, which may have a clear view of the adjacent properties.
  • Aesthetics: Some HOAs may have design or architectural standards, and ADUs may not meet these standards, which can affect the neighborhood's overall appearance.

To address these and even more concerns, the California state government passed Assembly Bill 670 in 2021, which prohibits HOAs from banning or restricting the construction of ADUs on their members' properties. Though, HOAs may be able to impose reasonable restrictions on the people who wish to construct. The bill reads the following:

“This bill would make void and unenforceable any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a planned development, and any provision of a governing document, that effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the construction or use of an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for single-family residential use that meets the above-described minimum standards established for those units. However, the bill would permit reasonable restrictions that do not unreasonably increase the cost to construct, effectively prohibit the construction of, or extinguish the ability to otherwise construct, an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit consistent with those aforementioned minimum standards provisions.”

According to this law, even if HOAs are not permitted to interfere with the construction of an Accessory Dwelling Unit, as long as it does not affect the timeline or cost of the ADU, they are allowed to have reasonable restrictions.

Another point that AB670 highlights is that HOAs can't impede the usage of ADUs for rental purposes.

Multitaskr neighborhood with new ADU

Working with your HOA shouldn't be a blocker, at multitaskr we're committed to helping you accomplish your ADU goals even if we have to help you navigate the HOA regulations and City permits; below, we include a short story on how one of our Clients in San Diego was able to navigate HOA and city permits.

Despite the HOA restrictions and regulations in his neighborhood, Mr. Bernabe was determined to build a 374 sq ft granny flat for his mother to live in. He contacted Multitaskr for help, and they worked together to come up with a plan that would comply with the HOA's guidelines while still meeting his needs. Multitaskr's team provided design options that would fit within the allowable square footage and helped him navigate the permitting process. Multitaskr took on the entire project from financing, design, site preparation, construction, HOA, and City permits, ensuring the project was completed according to code. In the end, the ADU customer was successfully built, providing a comfortable and accessible living space for his mother.

Building an ADU in California can be an excellent way to add value to your property, create additional living space, and generate rental income. However, it is crucial to understand the rules and regulations imposed by your HOA before beginning construction. You can ensure a smooth and successful ADU construction project by working with your HOA and following the guidelines.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, while Homeowners Associations have the authority to regulate property usage within their communities, they cannot prohibit, in any way, the construction of an ADU on your property. Remember that each state and locality has laws and regulations overseeing the use of ADUs, and it's essential to research and understand them before making any decisions about building one. Additionally, working with your HOA to find a mutually beneficial solution that satisfies their concerns and your desire to make an ADU may be possible.

If you're looking to build an ADU in your HOA neighborhood but don't know how to begin, at Multitaskr, we'll help you navigate their regulations to ensure you meet your community's standards. We'll walk with you throughout your whole journey in constructing the project of your dreams. Get in touch!

Book a Free Consultation to see how you could benefit!

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