Salt Lake City Tentatively Approves Mother-In-Law Apartments

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The Editors's picture

After some controversy, the Salt Lake City Council has tentatively approved an ordinance to allow small apartments, called accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and also mother-in-law apartments, to share a lot with single-family homes, according to reports.

Council Chair Stan Penfold hopes the increase of available units will help relieve some of the housing crisis. Vacancy rates are historic lows, which has forced rents to record highs.

"Low vacancy rates drive all apartment rents up, and so hopefully this will spread out that pool a little bit," Penfold told

The Council, by a straw poll, supported a proposal to include boundaries instead of allowing ADUs citywide, removed limits to the amount of new ADUs, and suggested the ordinance be reviewed in three-year’s time. More discussion is planned in an upcoming meeting, according to the city’s recap of the meeting.

However under the proposal there wouldn't be a cap on the number of units, but they won't be allowed in certain areas like East Bench or The Avenues

 Councilman Derek Kitchen earlier this year pitched a straw poll to remove geographic boundaries from the pilot program, which would be limited to 25 ADU permits per year, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Kitchen said he saw “geographic equity concern” in excluding those two areas.

A concern brought up is that homes would be bought and turned into make-shift duplexes which owners would rent out.

"The owner will have to live on the property in order for them to lease out their garage, their basement, or back-yard apartment," Kitchen told

While the units have to go through regular permitting processes, once approved Penfold said, "It may be built with an owner living in one of the units, but eventually the city doesn't have a way to monitor that so it could just become two rentals."

Some items the mother-in-law apartments ordinance tried to address

  • Create new housing units while respecting the appearance and scale of single-family residential development;
  • Provide more housing choices in residential districts;
  • Allow more efficient use of existing housing stock, public infrastructure, and the embodied energy contained within existing structures;
  • Provide housing options for family caregivers, adult children, aging parents, and families seeking smaller households;
  • Offer a means for residents, particularly seniors, single parents, and families with grown children, to remain in their homes and neighborhoods, and obtain extra income, security, companionship, and services;
  • Broaden the range of affordable housing throughout the city;
  • Support sustainability objectives by increasing housing close to jobs, schools, and services, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption;
  • Support transit oriented development and reduce auto usage by increasing density near transit;
  • Support the economic viability of historic properties and the city’s historic preservation goals by allowing accessory dwellings in historic structures.


Recap of the November 28 City Council Meeting

Council tentatively approves law allowing 'mother in law' apartments

Accessory Dwelling Units Proposal Sparks Flap At Salt Lake City Council

Plan to allow a few more 'mother-in-law' apartments sparks outsized controversy in Salt Lake City Council

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