Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)


Where can I read more about the state’s impact here?


I own a house in downtown Raleigh and a lot in another nearby neighborhood.

I don’t have room on my current lot for an ADU, but if I build on our other lot, I’d like the option of having one if I wanted one. That doesn’t mean I’m definitely going to build one, though.


They passed some nonsense legislation not long after they took over in 2010 that hamstring cities that wanted to shut down slumlords. I will see if I can find it but the net effect was it severely hampered Raleigh’s ability to shut them down or force them to improve their properties. It was the same piece of legislation that also limited a cities ability to dictate appearance, etc


They passed some nonsense legislation not long after they took over in 2010 that hamstring cities that wanted to shut down slumlords.

I remember hearing about this. It’s one of many ways they decided to “stick it” to urban areas.

I agree this presents problems, along with difficulty in evicting problem tenants. Protecting good tenants from bad landlords and protecting good landlords from bad tenants are issues that, if solved, would likely allay some of the fears about ADUs.


I wonder how many of them are slumlords themselves and wanted to protect their interests?


ADUs only allow the accessory buildings that can already be built by right (detached garages, storage, art studios, whatever) to have kitchens and showers and thus qualify to be treated as separate dwelling units. Frankly when I look around, I see a huge number of ugly derelict storage sheds; as someone who owns a single rental property, I know that you have to maintain the house to a certain standard in order to rent it out, whereas people can let their sheds and garages deteriorate as much as they please. People constructing a purpose-built ADU would have to meet zoning standards and pass inspection. Why do you think people would be interested in going to so much trouble to build a backyard cottage, only to do an awful job?

ADUs would raise the standard for accessory structures, not lower it.


I understand your concern, but it’s misplaced.
This isn’t an ADU problem, it’s a landlord problem. We build apartments all the time and no one is raising cain over the possibility that the landlords or property managers will be negligent. There will always be bad apples in the bunch, and it doesn’t stem from the fact that a property is an ADU. It’s a social issue, not an issue with ADUs.

We live in a society in which renters have substantial protection under the law. What makes you think that ADUs are suddenly different and will be breeding grounds for negligent landlords?

In the end, we can’t let the fear of a few bad apples prevent the 99% of good ones from building an ADU.


Drawing a comparison between apartment buildings and individual properties is an apples to oranges comparison. Apartment buildings tend to be owned by companies or banks and the City does have influence over them, especially apartment developers that want to continue building in a given City.

Individual landlords (slumlords), on the other hand can have significant detrimental impact on an area and ADUs open that door even further. I know this first hand as some of my property is adjacent to one such landlord. No matter what I do improve the quality of my tenant base or property, he just leaves the drug dealers in there. You can call the police all you want. Even if the police arrested them, he would just move in another similar renter. His behavior negatively impacts the neighborhood and the neighborhood property values. I can tell you also that this particular slumlord is the very one the City of Raleigh targeted to shut down BEFORE the GOP implemented their idiotic bill. Now, they can’t do anything…meaningful. If they’d known the guy was a ‘foreigner’, they’d probably never passed the bill.

Just because you saw some cool ones in Portland doesn’t mean they will all look like that. a ‘few bad apples’ can destroy a neighborhood and in North Carolina a city now has much less in the way of regulating these types of properties. Can’t speak for Oregon but I’m pretty sure their state government isn’t dominated by backwoods ultra-conservatives like North Carolina currently is today so stupid legislation like we have to contend with is not an issue in Portland.


Another SFH owner in favor of ADUs.


I agree the problems you mention are real, but I’m still not quite connecting the dots as to how ADUs will make the situation worse. If you own or live in property next to a rental owned by a bad landlord, it sucks, period. Is it that much worse with an ADU?

Furthermore, my impression is that bad landlords generally don’t invest in or maintain their property much. On the other hand, building an ADU is a very big investment. The types of landlords who will build ADUs are the ones who take a longer view and are therefore likely more interested in finding tenants who will be good neighbors.

In my case, I own one rental home in Southwest Raleigh. Zoned R-6; the lot is a bit more than a quarter acre so not quite big enough to subdivide. It is an older home from the 30s, on a corner lot, in a very mixed neighborhood. It is near a future BRT stop on a street with gigantic brand new SFH, older SFH of all shapes and sizes from every decade 1920s on; there are plenty of townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, and some small apartment buildings too. I would love to build a detached garage with an upstairs apartment during the next economic downturn when construction costs ease off a bit. It is obvious that this would be perfectly in character with the rest of the neighborhood, so I find it difficult to swallow that under this “overlay” regulation, a few ornery neighbors a couple streets over could prevent me from moving forward.

As it is, the neighborhood is starting to catch a case of teardown-itis. As I weigh my options I would rather keep the house, continue to update it, and add the ADU to capitalize on the increasing demand for housing in the neighborhood, but at some point if that is off the table I will look at what I have is worth, what it nets after maintenance, and what it can sell for, and call up the developer who has been doing all the new construction and teardowns in the neighborhood. Honestly I will come out okay either way but it seems like a negative for the city to lose possibly two more affordable housing units in exchange for one very large SFH.


New article from the N&O on the council meeting about ADU’s that happened on Tuesday.


Sounds like the root of the issue is slumlords,not ADU’s


Is this really much of a Downtown Raleigh issue? Or a City of Raleigh issue.

It seems like most of the opportunities for an ADU would be for properties outside of downtown. Some inside of the Beltline, but most lots large enough to have a house plus a tiny house plus parking for all that… would be well outside downtown.

I’m surprised this topic is so lively on a downtown focused blog. Of all the lots in Raleigh that would be affected by this issue, what percent are in downtown? Probably less than 3% of all Raleigh single family lots are in downtown? Plus many of them aren’t large enough to house an ADU. Are we talking about Oakwood? Hillsborough Street? Bloodworth?


Though the blog is about downtown I think/hope that all Raleigh urban issues are fair game on the board. It also depends on your definition of downtown Some would consider Boylan Heights, Mordecai, and Oakwood to be part of downtown while others would consider them downtown-adjacent. I should hope that @dtraleigh will allow for a bit of a fuzzy boundary in the interest of open discussion.


This is a good question. I bet you are right that lot-size-wize the most potential lots for an ADU are OTB. Something kind of interesting about ADU’s is that when lets say 1000 people get the ability to build one maybe 1 or 2 do. Not everyone wants to have other people renting in their back yard or be a landlord, and it takes money and time to build one. They can be built by right in all of Durham if you meet their lots size and parking requirements, but something like 8 ~15 a year get built. The thing that seems to motivate people to build them is when their neighborhoods land prices have really gone up, so it seems like a sure thing that you could rent the ADU for more than building it costs you. In my mind there would be more of that situation closer to downtown and desirable locations. Also, I don’t have the data on this, but I bet a higher % of OTB lots are part of an HOA, and lots of those ban ADU’s. If we legalized them then the Geography would be an interesting trend to track. Oh yeah, I forgot that all of the politics about getting them approved starting when neighbors in Mordecai request the ability to build them from the city. So that is a good example area of where people want to build them.


I’m a downtown homeowner and I fully support ADUs.

If you were truly open to discussion then you wouldn’t be so “basically opposed” to ADUs. Then again - you live in Cary so the idea of an unapproved mailbox probably sends chills down your spine. The Town of Cary can allow ADUs all they want but your HOA probably never will so you have nothing to worry about.


Parking concerns…give me a break. There has never been a city that is easier to park in than Raleigh. When I lived in Buffalo, I’d be lucky to find a spot 3 blocks from my house.


Wow. I find your comment to be really funny… Here let me try your logic… “If you were truly open to discussion then you wouldn’t be so basically opposed to those who oppose ADUs”. Did I get that right? BTW I live in a 1981 house in a neighborhood that does not have an HOA. So I have no protection if Cary decides to have ADU’s. And for the record I am not against ADUs in areas near downtowns, but generally speaking I just would not like having one next to my house.


Good new article on ADU’s in Raleigh


Due to a technicality the city council actually passed the new ADU overlay today which will “allow” ADU’s, but made them very very very hard to build.