The Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency Home Act (the “Act”) went into effect on January 1, 2022. One of the main aspects of the Act is to allow homeowners in urban areas to split their single-family residential lot into two separate legal lots if certain conditions are met. This is referred to as an urban lot split. If these conditions are met, then the Act imposes requirements on any city or county to approve an application for an urban lot split.

The Act requires a local agency to approve an application for an urban lot split as a ministerial act and without discretionary review. A local agency shall approve an urban lot split only if it conforms to all applicable objective requirements of the Subdivision Map Act, except as expressly modified by the Housing Opportunity Act. A local agency shall not require dedicating any rights of way or constructing off-site improvements for the parcels being created as a condition of approving an urban lot split.

The Act allows a local agency to impose objective zoning standards, objective subdivision standards and objective design review standards applicable to a parcel created by an urban lot split that do not conflict with the Act. However, a local agency may not impose any such standards if the effect would be to preclude the construction of two units on either resulting parcel that would result in any residential unit being less than 800 square feet.

The Act states that a local agency cannot require any set back from the property line for any existing structure or a structure created in the same location and in the same dimensions as an existing structure. However, a local agency can require a four foot setback from the side and rear property lines for any newly built residential structure.

The Act does allow a local agency to impose various conditions on an urban lot split, such as: dedicating easements for public services and utilities; each of the two parcels has access to a public right-of-way (such as a road or street); in certain limited circumstances, off-street parking of up to one space per residential unit; only allowing residential use on the newly created parcels; the owner must sign an affidavit that they intend to occupy one of the residential units as their principal residence for at least three years from the approval date of the urban lot split; and any rental of a residential unit created pursuant to an urban lot split must be for a term longer than 30 days.

This is only a sample of the various requirements imposed by the Act on a local agency to approve an urban lot split. A homeowner should consult with legal counsel to understand their rights and options under the Act.

This article is written by Patrick Casey, who is a business attorney with the JRG Attorneys At Law firm in Monterey. You may reach the author at (831) 269-7114 or at patrick@jrgattorneys.com.

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Attorney Patrick Casey