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Elderly Housing: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Accessory Dwelling Units (also known as accessory apartments, granny flats, secondary units) are separate living accommodations that are either attached to (apartment), or on the grounds of (separate building), a primary residence.  If attached, the apartment might encompass a portion of the original home, or an addition may be added to the primary residence.  ADUs commonly contain a kitchen, bedroom/s, living room, bathroom/s, etc.

There are landlord and tenant benefits to this type of residence.  For the landlord, the rented space will bring in added income to the household.  In addition, the value of the property could increase because of the additional living space.  For the tenant, the rent is normally more reasonable than other housing types (and often more private than a city or downtown apartment).  Many renters in ADUs still feel as if they are part of a residential neighborhood.

Communities also profit from Accessory Dwelling Units, as more affordable housing is made available to the city or town without the need for additional funding.  Guidelines and zoning laws, which vary with regions, regulate unit modification, exterior, size, etc.  For example, properties suitable for Accessory Dwelling Units (some municipalities prohibit ADUs) model the primary residence in appearance.  This lends for continuity in the aesthetic quality of the neighborhood.

Family-owned Accessory Dwelling Units (also known as in-law apartments) provide a wonderful option for a parent or loved one who is mostly self-sufficient but may need assistance with doctors’ appointments, grocery purchases, financial management, medication oversight, etc.  This housing-type is generally more affordable than Assisted Living.  ADUs encourage family interactions while still allowing for privacy, and adult children often feel peace of mind in knowing that their loved one is close-by.

Are Accessory Dwelling Units suitable for everyone?  Of course not.  Still, for the mostly independent senior, particularly one on a fixed income, this is a viable area to investigate (assuming an opportunity is available).  Rents tend to be moderate, and environment, supportive.  As with most major choices, though, it is important to consider all factors before making a final decision.

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