Accessory Apartments Are Finally Legal in Newton, Massachusetts

suburban accessory apartments
Image Source: Gareth Simpson, CC BY 2.0

The City Council of Newton, Massachusetts has voted in favor of approving an ordinance that finally legalizes accessory apartments, given that all detached units should go through a special permit process.

Commenting on this new development that will have a significant impact on how people live in this suburban city, Mayor Setti Warren said:

“First of all I am thankful for the collaborative work with the City Council to get this very important ordinance passed for the city. It is a part of our housing strategy to increase moderate as well as diverse housing. It is going to make Newton more affordable to many individuals and families. It is a great step.”

As James Freas of the Planning Department explained, accessory apartments are units that are already part of existing residences. They come in two types, which are internal (located inside the main property) and detached (a freestanding structure on the land of the main property).

According to Freas, the new law requires that an accessory apartment should be the owner’s main residence and should be owned by the same person owning the main property. Also, it does not allow short-term rentals. Freas believes that these apartments are a good way to address housing needs without causing a huge influx of the units.

All in all, the new ordinance resolves the issue of having scores of illegal accessory apartments that have existed in the city for decades.