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In affordable housing crunch, Utah lawmaker wants to let you rent out part of your home



Utah – As Utah housing prices continue to skyrocket, a state lawmaker is pushing a bill he says would help.

House Bill 82, sponsored by Rep. Ray Ward (R-Bountiful), would allow you to rent out part of your home — like a basement apartment — and the city wouldn’t get to say no.

“The bill is to try and get more affordable housing available statewide by allowing homeowners to make internal accessory dwelling units,” Ward said.

The bill would apply to any owner-occupied home, not rentals.

It’s not where the homeowner is renting the top out to one person and the bottom out to someone else,” Ward said. “The bill is about when the owner is living in their own home, saying that they may rent out a part of their home.”

Cities could still regulate certain aspects such as parking. The bill would also apply to homeowners’ associations.

“This is one of the ways the state can really help without trying to just pay state money to build a few more units of affordable housing,” said Ward.

Holly Jara, a Lehi resident of eight years, would like to legally rent out her basement but was told no by the city.

“It’s a hard thing because here there is no housing in Lehi that’s affordable,” Jara said. “We want to rent it for a reasonable amount and just have one couple in there.”

The Utah League of Cities and Towns opposes the bill. The organization’s director, Cam Diehl, called the proposal a “one-size-misfits-all approach because cities are unique.”

Diehl pointed to Provo — which has many college students — as an example.

“That puts some inherent stress on neighborhoods and on full-time residents,” Diehl said. “That’s a different situation than, say, a bedroom community or a gateway community to a national park.”

2News asked Ward, the bill sponsor, if his plan infringes on the oft-mentioned Republican principle of local control and allowing cities to make their own decisions.

I would say it balances the local control of a city with the local control of a property owner,” Ray responded.

Jara would like that control. She can’t see who it hurts.

“I think it’s a win-win for everyone, because they would save money on rent, and it would make a huge difference for us,” she said.

House Bill 82 has already passed a House committee this week and is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.