As “tiny homes” gain popularity among homebuyers and investors alike, several cities and states are looking for ways to use legislation to make these units more accessible as a way to increase affordability within their cities.
In high-priced areas such as Seattle, tiny homes offer living spaces for many in otherwise unaffordable neighborhoods. In a study released last year on the most popular tiny home listings (homes under 600 square feet), Redfin found a 580 square-foot home in Seattle listed for $309,950. While not cheap, the house is still less than half of the Seattle median home price of $772,729 as of 2018.
Currently, the state of Washington is looking to expand tiny home access through HB 1797, which Washington state senators Mia Gregerson and Andrew Barkis told the Seattle Times would “encourage cities and counties to adopt ordinances, development and zoning regulations that authorize creating accessory dwelling units within designed urban growth areas.”
“These small homes also make clear the connection between housing and our environment,” added Gregerson and Barkis. “As we stare down the reality of a rapidly changing climate, we need to take advantage of existing infrastructure via infill housing to prevent further sprawl, and protect farms and forests. Backyard cottages do this by fitting seamlessly into existing neighborhoods.”
Other cities are integrating tiny homes through mother-in-law units. In Salt Lake City, Modal Living, a company that designs and builds tiny houses is attempting to address the need for more affordable housing.
"Rents are increasing and there is a huge need for more housing stock and more density within the cities," Dustin Haggett, founding partner with Modal Living told Deseret News Utah. "We have a large amount of people who can't afford to live in Salt Lake City and have to commute back and forth to work each day."
Other cities, such as Nashville, face zoning problems for those who want tiny homes put on their property for personal use or investment. News Channel 5 Nashville reports that properties with tiny houses must be zoned for duplexes or multifamily properties in Tennessee.