Accessory dwelling units will now be allowed in unincorporated Utah County after the Utah County Commission unanimously amended the county land ordinance Tuesday morning.
The intent of the ordinance is to create more housing opportunities in unincorporated Utah County for people of differing income levels, according to the ordinance language. It could include renting out someone’s basement, or building a smaller “accessory apartment” on the property.
The ordinance allows a maximum of one such accessory dwelling on a lot or parcel, and it can only be occupied by one family, and must meet state requirements for building, fire and health codes. It can also have a separate utility meter for gas or electrical.
The accessory dwelling units would have a maximum of 1,000 square feet, but could have a unit at more than 1,000 square feet if the homeowner signs an affidavit saying that they would rent it out at a rate that complies with state qualifications for moderate-income housing. Detached accessory dwelling units would have maximum square footage of no more than 40% of the primary dwelling, up to 1,500 square feet.
“The assumption is, everything under 1,000 square feet will qualify by definition, then above that, the owner is signing an affidavit saying they’ll rent it out based on state qualifications,” said Bryce Armstrong, community development director for Utah County.
Deputy Utah County Attorney Robert Moore told the commissioners that would be nearly impossible to enforce, because the county would not have a way to tell if a landlord was staying within the state’s moderate-income guidelines unless a renter came to the county to complain.
“We just don’t have any idea unless someone complains,” Moore said.
All three Utah County commissioners said they were comfortable with the landlord signing the affidavit with the intent, and did not add requirements to the ordinance for the landlord to report what is being charged for rent.
The ordinance had already appeared before the Utah County Planning Commission in July, which recommended approval to the commission.
A housing affordability bill passed by the Utah Legislature during the 2019 session require cities and counties to plan for moderate-income housing, defined in state code as housing for those who earn less than 80% of the median income for the area. One of the state-approved ways to plan for moderate-income housing is to allow for accessory dwelling units.
The commission approved the ordinance, pending review from the Utah County Attorney’s Office.