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7/17/2019 Governor signs legislation allowing homeowners to build accessory dwellings for family members
STATE HOUSE — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) and Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) that helps homeowners to build onto their houses to provide space for relatives.

The law (2019-S 0691A, 2019-H 6219) expands the definition of “family member” for purposes of zoning ordinances to include child, parent, spouse, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partner, sibling, care recipient, or member of the household. 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 Senator Lombardi. “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.”

Under the legislation, the appearance of the home would remain that of a single-family residence with an internal means of egress between the home and the accessory family dwelling unit. If possible, no additional exterior entrances would be added. Where additional entrance is required, placement would generally be in the rear or side of the structure.

“Expanding the definition of ‘family member’ really allows us to accommodate other conditions beyond disabilities — particularly financial conditions,” said Representative Shanley. “More families today 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.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903