Phoenix’s New ADU Ordinance: A Game-Changer for Real Estate Investors?

Phoenix City Council yesterday approved an ordinance allowing homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), commonly known as casitas or backyard houses. The move aims to alleviate the city’s housing crisis. Councilwoman Betty Guardado emphasized that ADUs offer quick and affordable housing options, particularly for young and older residents.

Councilman Jim Waring was the only dissenting vote, citing concerns about exacerbating the city’s short-term rental issues. However, the city mandates that the property’s primary owner must reside in either the main house or the casita, limiting the potential for short-term rentals.

The ordinance outlines specific regulations, such as one ADU per single-family detached lot and size limitations based on lot area. Here’s the complete list to Phoenix’s new accessory dwelling ordinance:

  • One ADU per single-family detached lot may be constructed.
  • A detached ADU may be located within the required rear yard and may not exceed 15 feet in height unless use permit approval is granted.
  • An attached ADU may project into the rear yard if the same side yard setbacks as the primary dwelling unit are maintained, and a maximum height of 15 feet is provided.
  • An attached ADU which meets all required standard setbacks may be constructed to the full height permitted by the zoning district.
  • An ADU must comply with lot coverage requirements for the lot, though most have been increased.
  • For up to lots 10,000 square feet in area, the maximum size of the ADU is 1,000 square feet.
  • For lots over 10,000 square feet in area, the maximum size of the ADU is 3,000 square feet, or 10% of the net lot area, whichever is less.
  • But in no case may an ADU exceed 75% of the gross floor area of the primary dwelling unit.

What’s the Financial Upside for Investors in Phoenix?: The new ADU ordinance in Phoenix comes at a time when Arizona has blocked new homes in Greater Phoenix due to water scarcity. This creates a unique investment landscape. With traditional housing development stymied by environmental concerns, ADUs offer a more resource-efficient alternative. The new rules make around 18,000 lots meeting the 5,000 square feet requirement eligible for an ADU. Given the water limitations affecting new home constructions, ADUs could become the go-to solution for expanding housing without straining resources. This positions investors for a potentially lucrative market niche that aligns with both housing demand and environmental sustainability.

The ordinance will again be a topic of discussion in the City Council meeting on September 20, where parking concerns and short-term rental rules will be addressed. Learn more about Phoenix’s new ADU regulations.