Copy of Accessory Dwelling Units

Accessory Dwelling Units

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit is an independent residential living area that is on the same property as a larger, primary dwelling. Accessory dwelling units go by many names, including but not limited to: “in-law suite” “second unit” “granny flat” “basement apartment” “garage apartment.”

An accessory dwelling unit generally takes three forms:

  1. Re-purposed space: e.g. above the garage or in the basement.

  2. Stand-alone unit: separate from the primary home.

  3. Attached: addition to the primary home.

The word “accessory” has real meaning—in that the unit is secondary to the primary home, in the same way that a garage would be of secondary importance. Accessory units cannot be sold separately, must be clearly subordinate to the primary dwelling, are limited in size, and the exterior is required blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are flexible little homes that can help meet the variety of living arrangements our lives may demand. They can house family, friends, or be income-generating rental units.

Who benefits from Accessory Dwelling Units?

Salem Residents

Salem residents benefit form having entry level teachers, firefighters, nurses, service and hospitality employees (to name a few) who can live and work in their community.

Young Families with Kids

Young families could use an accessory dwelling unit for a live-in nanny or for a grandparent.

Seniors & Empty Nesters

The rental income from an accessory unit can make it feasible for someone on a fixed income to stay in their home and remain here in Salem.

Salem Businesses

Accessory units provide a housing option for employees of local business.


We have an unfinished attic space that would be ideal for upgrading to an in-law unit to provide additional income and allow us to be good stewards to our community into the future.”
— Brinn

How Accessory Dwelling Units Affect the Housing Market

Accessory Dwelling Units create an environment where the private sector can produce affordable housing, without having to invest public dollars.

Affordable housing through ADUs is created in two ways:

  1. Accessory dwelling units rent below what typical apartments rent for.

  2. The unit could generate rental income to help homeowners cover mortgage payments or simply make ends meet.

Video exploring ADU use in Oregon.