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Two Unit Properties in Washington, DC

Two unit properties in Washington, DC used to be a hassle. But now the mayor of DC, Vincent Gray, is encouraging population density by making it easier for homeowners to create two unit properties. This is all part of the mayor’s Sustainable DC Plan released this month. The proposal aims to make DC “the healthiest, greenest, and most livable” city in the country over the next two decades.

By 2032, the plan targets to add 250,000 new residents to the DC population. Where are all of these people going to live? Right now, DC has approximately 300,000 residential units, which includes houses, condos, cooperatives, and apartments. 

In order to allow for the influx of new residents, Action 1.4 of the Built Environment section of the Sustainable DC Plan aims to follow the lead of states like California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington in modifying zoning regulations to allow more two unit properties in Washington, DC. This could include an accessory dwelling within an existing home like a basement apartment.  Or it could include a small housing unit constructed near the existing home, often next to an alley or atop a garage.

The proposed zoning requirements will allow accessory dwellings if the main building is greater than a set size or if other small-scale structures already exist on the property. However, the requirements state that the second unit should be no more than 30% of the total habitable square footage of the main house. Other zoning and design requirements must also be satisfied. Since this is one of the short-term proposals in the Sustainable DC Plan, these changes allowing for more two unit properties in Washington, DC are expected to come to a vote of Zoning Commission this year.

The mayor hopes that the addition of accessory dwellings will increase the supply of affordable housing in the city. The extra rentable space can also provide homeowners with additional income. If you’re in love with a property and may not need all the space, or would like some extra help with the mortgage, think about your options for turning the home into a two unit property in Washington, DC.

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