ABA Journal


Real Estate & Property Law

Zoning Law Changes Allow for Backyard Cottages; Some House Parents or Grown Children

Nov 16, 2012, 11:30 am CST


I can remember when "accessory dwelling units" were comonplace. The neighbors never complained and the dogs seemed to like them.

By W.R.T. on 2012 11 16, 3:22 pm CST

The Amish folks hereabouts often have a "Grossdaadihaus" on their farm, where an aged parent might "move in" so s/he can be close to the family and help out here and there when they can. They still have the privacy and independence of living on their own, but they stay a part of family life and still have their kids nearby in case of emergency.

Seems like a pretty good arrangement if you have the space for it. If it's not creating other problems I don't see why it shouldn't work on a small lot.

By Ohio Lawyer on 2012 11 16, 4:19 pm CST

This is a good idea for elderly who are still ambulatory, especially when one considers that the cost of a no-frills care facility starts at over $3,000 per month in most areas, and many states have filial obligation statutes. One caveat: Make sure the granny cottage is built with the primary owners' funds. If the aging parent becomes to ill to live independently during Medicaid's 60 month look-back period, and must spend down for long term care, CMS or the state's department of welfare will attempt to lien the property as a transfer for an "improvement" to the property to the extent it was made with the aging parent's funds.

By BMF on 2012 11 16, 4:37 pm CST

My city, whose general rule is "only one residence - or principal building - per single family zone lot," adopted ADU provisions 40 or so years ago. Keeping the genie in the bottle has been the main issue in practice. Granny in the ADU may have zero practical impact on the neighbors. But another family, with several cars, does impose a density impact on the neighorhood. So tricky trade-offs are in play here.

But I don't see just how this constitutes news of general legal import..

By Walt Fricke on 2012 11 16, 8:14 pm CST


Would you or any of your colleagues care to comment for our blog on the ramifications of the funding of backyard cottages for seniors? A majority of our clients who build backyard cottages are doing so for an aging parent. In most cases the parent is paying for the cottage out of their savings.


By bruce parker on 2012 11 16, 10:15 pm CST

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