Florida’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Laws: Mitigating Florida’s Housing Woes Through State-Encouraged Expansion of ADU Permitting

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are replete with benefits for local governments, communities, and various age groups. These innovative housing solutions provide affordable living options to groups with low to moderate incomes or fixed budgets; offer elderly or disabled populations with accessible living and continued independence; present homeowners with an additional source of income; and promote environmental sustainability by allowing for shorter commutes, encouraging infill, and discouraging sprawl. Despite the wide variety of benefits associated with ADUs, they are illegal by default in many municipalities due to traditional Euclidian zoning laws. Florida is one of only a few states to pass legislation that incentivizes municipalities to create ADU permitting ordinances, but the legislation has fallen short in expanding the use of ADUs throughout the state. This Article explores various solutions on how Florida’s laws can improve to encourage the use of ADUs. It begins by describing the types of laws, policies, and ways of thinking that tend to hinder ADU growth, and discusses how ADUs have managed to grow on a national scale. Next, the Author explains how ADUs can benefit Florida residents in particular, and examines why the current Florida laws fall short of their intended goals. The Author concludes by presenting various solutions to improve Florida’s laws regarding ADUs, while understanding the need for compromise between proponents and opponents of ADUs.