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While you were sleeping: LA bans “granny flats” as Airbnbs

TRD LOS ANGELES /

City law set to prevent new “granny flats” as short-term rentals

Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky. A new city law would limit so-called granny flats from being posted on Airbnb. (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. A new city law would limit so-called granny flats from being posted on the short-term rental platform. (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Los Angeles’s law policing short-term rentals goes into effect Friday, and one crucial component is being overlooked: A ban on using newly constructed accessory dwelling units as short-term rentals.

Construction of accessory dwelling units – a.k.a. ADU’s, a.k.a. granny flats, or in-law flats – has exploded the last few years. At least some of these are posted on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, though no one yet has a count.

Depending on one’s perspective, the ban could be a needless blow to single-family homeowners and future development, or a necessary measure that could be difficult to enforce.

From ADU to Airbnb

ADUs – which are backyard dwellings or converted garages built adjacent to single-family units – started playing a bigger role in L.A.’s housing stock in 2017. That was when the city conformed to a California law easing ADU construction restrictions, including almost doubling the cap on ADU space to 1,200 square feet.

The effect was immediate. In 2016, the city of L.A. saw 299 permits for ADU construction, according to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. The number of permits skyrocketed to 3,818 in the first three quarters of 2017, per Terner, and there have been about 13,000 additional permit requests over the last two years.

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