New law allows homeowners to build accessory dwellings for family members


Gov. Gina Raimondo signed legislation that expands the law to allow homeowners to build accessory dwellings for loved ones.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo signed new legislation that allows homeowners to build accessory dwellings for family members.

For zoning ordinance purposes, the law expands the definition of “family member” to include child, parent, spouse, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partner, sibling, care recipient, or member of the household.

Before this new legislation, the law allowed permitting for accessory housing units only for family members who were elderly or disabled.

The law is part of the Senate’s “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island” package of economic development legislation.

“The existing law allows permitting for family accessory dwelling units, such as in-law apartments, for family members who are elderly or disabled,” said Sen. Frank Lombardi (D-Cranston). “That law has been very helpful for families that are providing care. This new law expands that, giving a way to stay close to families while addressing the state’s housing affordability issues.”

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Lombardi and Rep. Evan Shanley (D-Warwick).

“Expanding the definition of ‘family member’ really allows us to accommodate other conditions beyond disabilities, particularly financial conditions,” said Rep. Shanley. “More families prefer to have the option of ‘aging in place’ rather than move to an apartment or public housing. This gives them the opportunity to do that.”

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