Builder Paul Morin knows why New Hampshire recently passed a law dealing with the obscure-sounding topic of “accessory dwelling units.”
There’s a market for them in the state with an aging population and record-low rental vacancy rates.
“We’ve been getting more and more inquires for accessory dwelling units, for in-laws or au-pair suites, for young people who are moving back home after college so they can get their arms around college debt . . . or empty-nesters,” said Morin, of Tarkka Homes in Weare.
The complication, Morin said, is that communities handle the issue differently because of zoning ordinances. Many put up obstacles out of concern that once a home has an “in-law apartment” – a small addition with a separate kitchen, bedroom and bath – it will eventually turn into a rented duplex.
“I was finding roughly 50 percent of the time, the ordinances were not allowing what my client, very reasonably, wanted to do,” Morin said.
Last week, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill in the works for nearly two years that cuts back on restrictions that towns and cities can put on such units.
After June 1, New Hampshire communities will not be able to require that such units be occupied only by a family member, or have a separate water or sewer connection, or contain just one bedroom, or maintain an always-unlocked doorway connection to the rest of the house. The change applies both to new construction and renovations to an existing home.
The law does allow communities to require that the building owner live on site, meaning no absentee landlords.