Question about Washington ADU law

9 Replies

My wife and I have been looking for an investment property in WA. We live in Bremerton but it’s difficult to find something that cash flows. 
We found this place in Ellensburg that looks interesting.

If I’m understanding the ad correctly, it has two separate rentals on the property besides the house. I’m not familiar with Ellensburg. Would it be legal to buy the house as a rental while also renting the other two or does it need to be owner occupied. In Bremerton I believe you must live in the house. Do these things vary by county or is it usually state law? Thanks in advance! 

I don't know about Ellensburg but yes, it seems to vary by county as to what is legal. If the ADUs were built with permits then you are probably fine (double check since I believe Whatcom county requires you tear down the ADU if property isn't owner occupied). I have an ADU in Grant county (it was built in the 50s so I didn't worry about it) and and ADU in Jefferson county (also fully permitted and on the property tax) and has been in existence since the 80s.

Thank you all for chiming in. Yes I would definitely clarify with the county. 

@Louis Chan- It may be possible but I haven’t seen that it is easy and I’ve been looking for a while. They certainly are not meeting the 1% or 50% rules. 

Thanks Shereif! The ad was unclear to me originally but it sounds like the "mother-in-law" (which is in addition to the ADU) apartment could be part of the house. That sounds like a difficult rental situation. I contacted the agent and am waiting to hear back.

@Joshua Peglow

We work with a lot of house hackers in Denver and Colorado Springs who are looking for that mother-in-law suite, basement apartment, ADU thing. There are so many factors to understand. Is it zoned correctly? Even if it's zoned correctly, does it have adequate lot size to meet that zoning designation's requirements? What's the difference between an existing ADU and a newly built one? Can I rent out both the main house and the ADU when I leave or do I have to rent the whole space?

Two important steps: 

  1. Call the planning department and ask for the planner of the day. They should help. What the rules are for building a new ADU may not apply to your already-existing ADUs.
  2. Work with a real estate agent that understands this stuff, and knows what questions to ask and who to ask them to.

Good luck!

Thanks for the response! I got ahold of the realtor. The property is listed FSBO but in the mls. It appears that the house was converted to multi-family which would make the ADU unqualified. I'm going to pass on this one and keep looking. Thanks again to everyone for the wealth of knowledge!