Bill Legalizing ADUs Passes Texas Senate

If passed by the full state legislature, the bill would eliminate local restrictions on ‘mother-in-law’ units.

2 minute read

May 1, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Texas Capitol Building

RoschetzkyProductions / Shutterstock

[Update 09/01/2023: SB 1412 failed to gain full approval by the state legislature. Some blamed “urban democrats” for killing the bill.]

A bill passed by the Texas State Senate would legalize accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or “mother-in-law suites,” across the state, removing cities’ power to prohibit ADUs in their neighborhoods. As Lori Brown reports for Fox 4 News, “Under Senate Bill 1412, city zoning on ADUs would no longer apply.”

Cities and states around the country are moving to loosen restrictions on ADUs and other forms of ‘missing middle housing’ that could help boost the housing supply, stem the affordability crisis, and provide an extra source of income for homeowners while preserving neighborhood character and limiting impact on local resources. “‘It is fair to say this is a nationwide movement toward liberalizing land-use restrictions, moving in the direction of Texas, in terms of property rights,’ said Matt Festa, professor at South Houston College of Law.”

As in most cases, for some, the issue comes down to local control and the fear that local cities and neighborhoods will lose the ability to regulate changes in their area. But in Texas, where property rights are often sacrosanct, it also comes down to the rights of a property owner to use their property in various ways. According to SMU political scientist Matthew Wilson, “There is an argument to be made there, but it is unusual to see a state step in and invalidate local attempts at zoning and control of property use.”

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