Fast Facts

  • ADUs may be rented but not sold separately from the primary home on the lot.

  • You can build up to 6 types of ADUs: detached, garage conversion, attached addition to existing home, attached to garage, interior conversion, attached garage conversion 

  • In the City of LA, detached ADUs must maintain 10 feet separation from primary structures. 

  • Multifamily Zones - you can build an ADU in these zones, but they still must be built on a single-family residence and you may not exceed the allowed density. 

  • Detached ADUs must not be greater than 2 levels high and must follow zoning and height requirements.

 


 

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Common Questions
Laws & Policies
On-Site Parking

How much on-site parking is required?

Per State law, local governments can require a maximum of one parking space for the ADU, unless any of the following apply: it is within a half-mile of public transit; it is located within an architecturally and historically significant district; it is part of the proposed or existing primary residence or accessory structure; on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the ADU occupant; or there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the ADU. Single-family dwellings are required to maintain two covered parking spaces on the same lot as the dwelling. If your garage or carport has been converted to another use, a carport or garage must be provided before your Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.

Public Transit

How can I tell if I’m within a half-mile radius of public transit?

Many properties within the City of LA are located within a half-mile of transit (defined as any bus stop or rail station). Properties that meet this criteria are not required to add additional parking spaces for ADUs. To check if your property is within a half-mile of transit, you may use resources such as google maps or the LA Metro website. You may also call the Department of Building and Safety to inquire whether your ADU will require additional parking spaces.

Rent Stabilization

Is an ADU subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO)?

If your primary home was built on or before October 1, 1978, your primary unit, ADU, or both might be subject to the City’s RSO. To find out if your property is subject to RSO, visit the City of Los Angeles’ Housing and Community Investment Department.

Home-Sharing

Can I use my ADU for short-term rentals or home-sharing?

Laws regarding short-term rentals and home-sharing differ based off when the ADU was built. If an ADU was built prior to 2017, it may be used for short-term rental or home-sharing even if it is not the host’s primary residence. However, an ADU built after January 1, 2017 cannot be used for a short-term rental or home-sharing unless it is the host’s primary residence. This means that the home-sharing host must live in the ADU for more than six months in a year. If the host lives in the main home and only rents out the ADU, then short-term rentals and home-sharing are not permitted in the ADU.

For more information, visit the Department of City Planning’s website here and read the home-sharing FAQs here.

Legalizing an Unpermitted ADU

How can I legalize an unpermitted ADU on my lot?

To legalize an unpermitted ADU, you must undertake a six-step process with the Department of City Planning (DCP), Department of Building and Safety (DBS), and the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID). This six-step process consists of: pre-application (DCP, DBS, HCID), plan check (DBS), planning clearance (DCP Housing Unit), covenant and affordable housing clearance (HCID), planning clearance (DCP Public Counters), and the issuance of a final building permit (DBS). More information can be found on the planning department website and here.

Eligibility
Building an ADU

Does the homeowner have to live on the property as their primary residence in order to build an ADU?

No. The homeowner can live elsewhere while building an ADU.

Mobile Homes

Can manufactured homes, factory-built homes and mobile homes be used as ADUs?

Manufactured homes are permitted to be used as ADUs under state law. Factory-Built Housing (FBH) units are permitted to be used to the extent that they comply with the Factory-Built Housing Program developed by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Mobile homes cannot be used as ADUs. As with standard construction, the structure must go through the permit approval process for zoning and/or foundation work as applicable. Contact the Department of Building and Safety for more information.

Tiny Homes

Can I use a recreational vehicle or tiny house on wheels as an ADU?

No. RVs and homes on wheels are regulated as vehicles, not permanent dwelling units, in accordance with State codes.

Financials
Property Taxes

Will building an ADU increase my property taxes?

Construction of a new ADU will not trigger a reassessment of the entire property. As with other types of new construction, only the value of the new ADU (new construction added) will be added to the property’s assessed value. When legalizing an existing unpermitted ADU, the assessment will depend on whether the ADU’s value was reflected in the last sale price assessor valuation. If so, legalizing the unit will not result in reassessment of the ADU as long as the conversion does not result in additional square footage, or is part of a larger remodeling of the entire residence. For more information, please visit the Los Angeles County Assessor Frequently Asked Questions page on “New Construction."

Selling an ADU

Can I sell only my ADU?

No. Because ADUs are on the same property as a primary home, you can only sell the primary home and ADU together.

Permitting
Building Permit

How long is my building permit valid for?

If construction on your project does not start within six months of the issue date of the permit, the permit expires and must be renewed before work can continue. The permit will expire two years from the date of issue.

Construction & Inspections
Calling for an Inspection

I have my permit and construction plan ready. How do I call for inspection?

To call the Department of Building and Safety (DBS) for inspection, the customer service number is (866) 4LA-CITY / (866) 452- 2489 within LA County or 213-473-3231 outside LA County. It is recommended to call for inspection at least 24 hours in advance. Occasionally DBS office workloads delay inspections an additional 24 hours.

Final Steps

Construction of the ADU is finished. Now what?

Once ADU construction is completed, you must call for final inspection and ask your inspector if you will be issued a Certificate of Occupancy. In order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, all external surfaces must be painted, or otherwise sealed, weather-stripping must be installed on all new windows and doors, and all electrical or plumbing fixtures must be installed. Interior painting, wallpapering, or carpeting need not be complete. Smoke detectors must be installed in all bedrooms and in hallways leading to bedrooms.

Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety

Can I demolish my garage and build a new ADU in the same location?

No, all new ADU’s must comply with L.A.M.C 12.21 C.5.

Can I pull “owner builder” permits for an ADU?

Are ADU’s required to have a washer/dryer hook-up?

No.

How many ADUs can I provide on my lot?

You can provide only one ADU on your lot, and only when one main building exists on site and that building is a single-family dwelling.

Do I have to provide building records to show proof of an existing structure to be converted to an ADU?

Yes.

Where are ADUs allowed?

ADUs are allowed in zones that allow single/multi-family homes, when the existing main building on site is only one dwelling.

Are there height and size limitations for ADUs?

Yes, heights are limited based off the zones in which they are built.

Does an ADU require a kitchen?

Yes.

Does an ADU have to be insulated when you convert it from a garage?

Yes.

Can an ADU be larger than the main dwelling?

Yes.

Can an ADU be allowed where duplex or multi-dwelling exists?

No.

Can a detached ADU be built in front of the existing dwelling?

Detached ADUs must for the purposes of setbacks comply with L.A.M.C 12.21 C.5.

Can my 0’ front yard setback detached garage be converted to an ADU?

Yes, however no additions are allowed.

Can my required parking for the ADU be uncovered?

Yes.

Can my required parking be located in the front yard when converting my garage to an ADU?

Yes.

Do I have to replace parking when converting my garage into an ADU?

Yes.

Can my required parking spaces for the main dwelling be uncovered if I convert my garage into an ADU?

Yes.

Can my required parking be tandem for both the ADU and the main dwelling?

Yes.

Does my ADU have to comply with California Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24)?

Does my new or converted ADU need a sprinkler system?

No, unless the main building is sprinklered. If the main building is sprinklered then the ADU must also have a sprinkler system.

Does an existing structure converted into an ADU have to comply with the Los Angeles Residential Code (LARC) or Los Angeles Building Code (LABC)?

Yes. See the ADU Conversion of an Existing Structure Information Bulletin: P/BC 2017-150.

Does a patio attached to an ADU factor into the ADU’s gross square footage?

Yes.

Does a storage attached to an ADU factor into the ADU’s gross square footage?

Yes.

Can the parking for an ADU back up into a major or secondary highway?

No.

Does “Encroachment Plane” apply to an ADU?

Yes.

Is an ADU subject to Rec and Park fees?

Yes, if the ADU is located in a multi-dwelling zone.

Is a garage conversion exempt from Methane Requirements?

No.

Can I have an ADU in a commercially zoned lot?

ADUs are permitted in any zones that allow single/multi-family homes and the main building existing on site is one dwelling.

Do I need a 10 ft separation between an ADU and other accessory structures?

No.

Is there a limit on the number of stories an ADU can be?

ADUs are limited to two stories.

Is DWP approval required when converting or building a new ADU when the location of the structure is within 10 ft of an easement?

Yes.


Glossary

Accessory Dwelling Unit

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a secondary residential unit added to a property with an existing or planned single-family home. ADUs are sometimes referred to as granny flats, in-law units, second units, backyard cottages, or basement apartments. While ADUs come in many forms and sizes, they always include a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area. ADUs include efficiency units, as defined in Section 17958.1 of the Health and Safety Code, and manufactured homes, as defined in Section 18007 of the Health and Safety Code and Movable Tiny Houses.

Accessory Parcel Number

An Accessory Parcel Number is the number the City assigns to your parcel or lot. You can find your APN under Address/Legal section on ZIMAS. This number is also sometimes referred to as an Assessor’s ID Number (AID), Property Identification Number (PIN), Property Account Number, or Tax Account Number.

Architect

An architect is a design professional who has undergone training in design and construction management and is licensed in California. An architect takes legal responsibility for their work and offers a range of services, such as initial concept design, coordinating with subcontractors and other consultants, and managing the construction process.

Building Code

Building code is a series of standards set by the State of California that ensure buildings are built safely. The City of Los Angeles Building Code is codified in the Los Angeles Municipal Code, Chapter IX, Article I.

California State Housing Law

In 2017, the State of California’s legislature declared that allowing Accessory Dwelling Units in single family and multifamily zones are an essential component in addressing California’s housing needs. Many cities are still in the process of releasing their own ADU Ordinances that conform to the State of California’s January 2017 update to the standard for Accessory Dwelling Units, (Section 65852.2). In the meantime, state law applies to any ADU project.

Certificate of Occupancy (CofO)

Los Angeles Municipal Code requires the Department of Building and Safety to issue a Certificate of Occupancy for every building or structure in the City of Los Angeles. A Certificate of Occupancy is a document issued by the Department of Building and Safety certifying a building's compliance with applicable building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for occupancy. This certification status is the last step of the ADU building process. Once your ADU is complete and has passed final inspections, you can check your status online on LADBS’ website.

Covenants

Covenants are property restrictions enforced by Homeowner Associations. If you are part of a Homeowners Association, check your Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

Deed Restrictions

Covenants are property restrictions enforced by Homeowner Associations. If you are part of a Homeowners Association, check your Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

Designer

A designer is a term for someone who does general design work. Like architects, they have the skills to design ADUs and may charge lower rates than architects, but also have less expertise.

Discretionary Entitlement

A discretionary entitlement is a planning approval granted to an applicant to allow for a specific type of land use and/or to allow for the construction, modification, or use of a building. The approval of an entitlement involves a formal discretionary application process, and may require a public hearing prior to issuing a recommendation or a determination letter to approve or deny. Projects that require a discretionary entitlement must attain a determination letter of approval before receiving approval of a building permit.

Click here to learn about Department of City Planning Applications & Entitlements in Los Angeles.

Discretionary Permit

If your property is in a Historic Preservation Zone, Specific Plan area, etc. you may have to undergo a discretionary approval process. This may require a public hearing and be subject to appeals. Building permits may not be issued until this process has taken place.

Encroachment Permits

An encroachment permit is necessary if you will use any part of the road (from property line to property line) to store materials, detour traffic or park equipment in the street overnight. Encroachment permits are issued for temporary and long-term placements.

Entitlement

Entitlement is approval from a regulatory body to develop on a piece of land. Click here to learn about the Land Use entitlement process in Los Angeles.

Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

Floor Area Ratio is a ratio comprised of the number of feet of built space divided by the number of feet on a lot. This ratio controls how many square feet are allowed to be built on a lot by establishing maximum FAR or other formulas. For example, a 2,000 sq ft house on a 5,000 sq ft lot has an FAR of 0.40 (2,000 divided by 5,000).

General Contractor

A general contractor assesses construction projects by working with homeowners to map out a plan from concept to completion. They are experts in project management, understand what materials are needed, evaluate the required skills and number of subcontractors needed, prepare total construction cost estimates, and help prepare the necessary permits required to finish the project.

Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ)

A Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, or HPOZ, is an area of the city which contains structures, landscaping, natural features or sites with historic, architectural, cultural or aesthetic significance. To receive such designation, areas must be adopted as an HPOZ by the City Planning Commission and the City Council through a zone change procedure that includes notifying all affected and nearby property owners and presenting in public hearings.

Lien

A lien is a claim on a residential property for the homeowner's unpaid bills. When a lien is placed on a home's title, it means that the owner cannot legally sell, refinance or otherwise transfer a clear title of ownership to the home.

Los Angeles Housing Code

The purpose of the Los Angeles Housing Code is to remedy the existence or prevent the development of dangerous, substandard, or unsanitary and deficient residential buildings and dwelling units; and is in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of the people of Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles Housing Code is codified in the Los Angeles Municipal Code, Chapter XVI, Article I. Click here to access the Los Angeles Housing Code.

Lot Coverage

Lot coverage is expressed as a percentage that indicates how much space buildings are allowed to take up on a lot. In Los Angeles, this includes garages, porches, and overhangs. For example, if your building is 40 feet X 30 feet and your lot is 5,000 sq ft, your lot coverage is 24%.

Moveable Tiny House

A moveable tiny house is a structure intended for the separate, independent living quarters of one household for year-round residence. They are registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles and abide by California State Law. Moveable tiny houses are not considered ADUs, even if they exist on the same plot as a single-family home.

Ministerial Review

A ministerial review is administered by the City to ensure an application has met all requirements. There is no need for discretion or public hearing.

Multi-family Zones (R2 - R5)

Multi-family Zones (R-2) have multiple family dwelling units (i.e. apartments, condos) and provide medium to high-density housing. Almost all requirements for single family R1 zones apply to R2. It is permitted to build an ADU in a multi-family zone as long as all local building codes (lot coverage, building height, etc.) are met.

Residential Floor Area Ratio (RFAR)

The Residential Floor Area Ratio (RFAR) is the ratio of the floor square footage to the height of the building. Parking, portions of attics with a ceiling height of more than 7 feet, porches, patios, breezeways with a solid roof, and basement area with a height of more than 2 feet are included in Residential Floor Area calculations.

Setbacks

Setbacks are the minimum space required between a structure and the property line. Most ADUs built in Los Angeles are required to be 5 feet from the side and rear lines of the property and minimum 10 feet from other structures, like the primary home.

Single-family Zone (R1)

Single-family zoning is the most common zone of any kind in Los Angeles. In single-family zones, you can only build one house on the lot, no matter how big the lot is. The most common single-family zone is R1, which requires a minimum lot size of 5,000 sq ft.

Site Plan

A site plan is a drawing of your lot, buildings, and other features.

Survey

A survey is a professional examination/drawing of your property boundaries and/or slope.

Through lot

A through lot is a lot that is accessible to the street from the front and back property lines.

Utility Easement

Utility easements are areas of a property that were defined for use by utility companies when the property was first put on a plot. They are designated for overhead electric, telephone and television lines and underground electric, water, sewer, telephone, and cable lines.

Zoning/Zoning Code

Zoning/zoning code are City rules that govern what can and cannot be built on a site. Lots are designated a zone (e.g. R-1) and each zone has its own regulations. Rules about where an ADU can be built on a lot, how tall it can be, or in what zone it can be developed are all examples of zoning code.