How To Legalize an Unpermitted ADU In California

To help homeowners with ADU without permits have their structures recognized by the law, many state and municipal governments have established unit legalization programs. Legalizing your ADU is a wise decision that can benefit you and your community whether you constructed it, inherited it, or bought the land that already included one.

What Is an Illegal ADU? 

Let’s start with a definition of what makes an a

Accessory dwelling unit (ADU) illegal or unpermitted, and then we’ll discuss how to get yours legalized. Typically, a homeowner’s ADU will only be lawful if they’ve gotten the necessary permits and certificate of occupancy from their municipality. In the absence of these permits, the completed ADU will be unlawful.

Getting a permit could be time-consuming and frustrating if you need to become more familiar with the ins and outs of city regulations. Therefore, some people opt out to save time and money. It will save them (or the next homeowners) a little bit of money now but a lot more in the long run.

Obtaining a license is necessary for the safety of everyone involved. Natural disaster protocols and building rules work together to make your apartment less vulnerable to destruction in the case of a fire, a hurricane, or another natural disaster. The occupants of a detached dwelling unit (DDU) that has not been correctly permitted may be in danger.

Advantages of making ADUs legal

Possessing and renting out an unpermitted ADU carries significant legal risk. Owners risk severe fines, citations, and even legal action if they rent out an unauthorized unit. Tenants have the right to file a lawsuit against you to recover any rent and utility payments. By obtaining the necessary permits to operate your ADU legally, you can stop worrying about losing whatever rental income you have already accrued.

Natural disasters like earthquakes, fires, or floods won’t cover unpermitted ADU repairs. An officially recognized ADU helps safeguard you and your renters from unwanted consequences.

A legal ADU is an excellent investment because it increases the value of your property. So, if you eventually decide to sell, you’ll get more money for your home if you install a legal ADU rather than a risky one.

How To Get Your ADU Up To Code

Many jurisdictions, including California, advocate ADU construction to ease the housing shortage. ADUs must be legalized to provide affordable housing. The illegal ADU renter faces fines and legal punishment. Several state and local governments have legalized ADUs or included them in legalization programs.

Unpermitted Dwelling Unit (UDU) Ordinance in Los Angeles (Ord. No. 184,907). If life safety requirements are met, ADUs can be recognized under the UDU code. The owner follows City Planning’s 6-step process. The Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) and the Housing and Community Investment Department can then authorize new units (HCIDLA).


ADU without a permit is a worthwhile endeavor. Now that you know how to rent your apartment, you may start earning money without active involvement. In addition, you’ll be helping a deserving family acquire a home of their own. You can make some extra cash while aiding the effort to alleviate the housing shortage.

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