WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
By Sean Dinsmore and Zach Hilton
ABOUT SENATE BILL 9
Senate Bill 9 ( SB9 ), the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (“ HOME ”) Act , went into effect January 1 , 2022 and brings unprecedented development options to homeowners of standard residential properties . This applies to properties zoned as single family , which accounts for most homes within the city limits . SB9 primarily allows for two things : to split your lot , and / or to build duplexes on your lot ( s ). This may all sound a bit absurd , but hey , we ’ re in California , and this law is already in effect and supported by local city staff . Many of you are already familiar with the allowance of accessory dwelling units ( ADUs ), which can be compounded with SB9 to create a nice little rental property .
SB9 Restrictions As with anything , there are some restrictions . Splitting your lot to build multiple duplexes would require you to sign an affidavit stating you intend to occupy one of the housing units as your principal residence for a minimum of three years from the date of the approval . However , if you simply build a duplex on your existing lot , you are not required to occupy it .
SB9 also contains important protections against displacement of existing tenants , and cannot be applied to homes that have had tenants occupying it within the last three years . There are some classes of properties you can ’ t develop with SB9 , including : historic districts , rent-controlled housing for moderate to very low income families , and properties with certain environmental designations . Check with your local city planning department to see if your property qualifies , as well as for minimum lot size requirements and objective design standards . The vast majority of homes within the city limits will qualify for SB9 development . To give you an idea of what this could look like , here are some sample scenarios :
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Example scenario 1 : A senior couple owns a single family home in a standard neighborhood . They raised their family in this home and they want to age in place but don ’ t need a home this large anymore . Plus , they want to supplement their current income . They decide to convert their home into a duplex and build an ADU in the backyard . They rent out both units in the duplex and move into the ADU located in the backyard , which has a separate side entrance .
Example scenario 2 : A family owns a single family home on a larger lot , and they choose to split the lot into two . They build a duplex on the newly split portion and keep the existing single family home on the other portion , as well as build an ADU behind the existing home . Now they have options as they raise their family , and can sell either / or property at their discretion .
Example scenario 3 : A young professional is looking to purchase property as their primary residence . They purchase an existing single family home that qualifies under SB9 , split the lot in two , and build a duplex on each lot . They occupy one of the units as their primary residence , rent out the other unit in that duplex , and sell the other property with the other duplex .
As California tries to ease the housing crisis , don ’ t be surprised to see people utilize SB9 around town .
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