backyard cottage Bay Area backyard cottage. Photo: paintchipdiaries/Flickr

Oakland is strapped for affordable rental space, and everybody knows it. Wednesday night saw Oakland’s City Council voting for less harsh restrictions concerning secondary units on home property such as a backyard cottage or storage unit.

Previously, homeowners would have to build additional parking spaces in order to transform their unused backyard structures into living spaces. The additional cost, as detailed in a UC Berkeley report from 2012, was the biggest hurdle in homeowners taking the plunge for having more tenants on their land. Now, as long as a home is within a half-mile radius of a BART station, additional parking does not need to be built. Similar rules were passed in Berkeley last year.

With this change, Oakland homeowners, and those who are considering buying a home, can more easily rely on that extra income. As for prospective renters who might be interested in renting a secondary unit, they’ll have to take care to avoid illegal units. If unsure, a renter should ask the homeowner if they could see the permits for the secondary unit.

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