March 26, 2024

ADU Laws and Regulations in Milwaukee - 2024

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Overview of ADU Laws and Regulations in Milwaukee

In Milwaukee, the laws and regulations governing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are evolving as the city recognizes their potential in addressing affordable housing needs.

Understanding Accessory Dwelling Units

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a secondary housing unit on the same lot as a main residence, which can be used for rental income or to house family members. They vary in form, being either attached, such as an extension to the main house, or detached like a backyard cottage. Milwaukee's zoning code is an important reference for homeowners to ensure their ADU plans comply with current laws.

The Importance of ADUs in Affordable Housing

ADUs contribute to the affordable housing stock by offering lower-cost rental options within existing neighborhoods. They offer a flexible solution to increase housing supply without altering the character of the community. In Milwaukee, ADUs are recognized for their role in providing affordable alternatives to traditional housing.

Legislative Context for ADUs

The legislation in Milwaukee regarding ADUs has been curated to support urban housing policies while ensuring safety and community standards. Homeowners must navigate local zoning laws and building codes, which include obtaining necessary permits for construction and adhering to rules related to size, location, and occupancy for their ADUs. These regulations aim to integrate ADUs smoothly into the city’s housing landscape.

ADU Zoning and Land Use in Milwaukee

In Milwaukee, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are subject to specific zoning and land use regulations. These regulations are crucial to understand as they dictate the viability of ADU development and encompass restrictions on lot requirements, land use, and minimum lot size.

Zoning Regulations and Restrictions

Milwaukee's zoning ordinances exert control over the construction and existence of ADUs. The local zoning laws proscribe the land use for every district, with some areas potentially precluding the development of ADUs entirely. ADUs are currently a topic of debate, with some proposals suggesting changes to zoning to accommodate these units. As of now, detached ADUs may be restricted due to a zoning change from 2002, underscoring the importance of staying updated on the latest zoning code modifications.

Lot Requirements and Constraints

Each unit within Milwaukee must comply with existing zoning density requirements. These requirements have implications for the amount of open space that must be preserved, and for how closely structures can be situated to one another, which is especially relevant for ADUs that are often added to existing lots. Setbacks, which refer to the distance a structure must be from the property lines, are also critical and must be considered in the planning stages.

Minimum Lot Size for ADUs

The minimum lot size for constructing ADUs in Milwaukee is important to determine the feasibility of adding an accessory unit. While the city's zoning code does not explicitly mention the term "accessory dwelling unit," constraints on land use and allowed density contribute to the practicality of establishing ADUs on a property. Properties must be sufficiently large not only to stay in compliance with local zoning requirements but also to accommodate the additional housing unit without violating lot coverage limitations.

Building and Permitting Process in Milwaukee

The ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) building and permitting process in Milwaukee is governed by a set of specific local regulations. Homeowners seeking to add an ADU on their property need to navigate these with careful attention to compliance and standards.

Obtaining Building Permits for ADUs

To begin construction of an ADU in Milwaukee, homeowners must first obtain the necessary building permits from the city. The City of Milwaukee requires permits and fees for construction, additions, alterations, and repairs. These regulations are in accordance with Wisconsin Administrative Code, ensuring consistency with state-wide standards.

  1. Application: The permit application must include detailed site plans and relevant construction details.
  2. Review Process: City zoning officials review the application to verify that the project complies with all zoning and building codes.
  3. Approval: Upon approval, the building inspector will issue permits needed for various aspects of construction, including plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.

ADU Design and Construction Standards

In Milwaukee, ADUs must adhere to specific design and construction standards. These are based on both local ordinances and the state's Uniform Dwelling Code, providing guidelines for safe and sustainable development.

  • Zoning Requirements: The size, location, and use of ADUs are subject to zoning restrictions, ensuring they fit within the character and layout of the neighborhood.
  • Building Code Compliance: ADUs must meet all health and safety requirements outlined in the building code, including standards for egress, fire safety, and structural integrity.

Homeowners should consult with Milwaukee's Department of Neighborhood Services or a licensed contractor to ensure that their ADU project aligns with all the necessary codes and standards.

Owner-Occupancy and Rental Regulations in Milwaukee

In Milwaukee, regulations regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are defined to balance the city’s housing needs with community integrity. Two significant aspects of these regulations include owner-occupancy requirements and rental restrictions.

Owner-Occupancy Requirements

In line with the city’s code, owner-occupancy requirements mandate that property owners reside within the principal dwelling if they intend to rent out an ADU. This type of regulation is instituted to maintain neighborhood stability and ensure that the property owner is directly involved in the maintenance and management of the rental property. Non-compliance can lead to legal repercussions and restriction from generating rental income from the ADU.

Rental Restrictions for ADUs

When it comes to rental restrictions, Milwaukee imposes specific ordinances governing ADUs. These ordinances may limit the ability to use ADUs for short-term rentals, thereby influencing the potential for rental income. Property owners considering the development of ADUs should be aware of the applicability of the short-term rental law in their municipality. Local laws might also delineate the duration and terms of allowable rental agreements within ADUs, balancing the provision of affordable housing options with the needs of permanent residents.

Local Ordinances and Jurisdictional Differences in Milwaukee

Milwaukee's approach to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) reflects local commitment to providing flexible housing solutions. This section examines Milwaukee's ordinances and compares them with those in other states and jurisdictions.

Understanding Milwaukee's ADU Ordinance

In Milwaukee, the regulation of ADUs is covered under the city's zoning codes and building regulations. The city has adopted provisions to allow for the construction and management of ADUs, aiming to improve housing availability without compromising the character of residential neighborhoods. For specific guidance, individuals can refer to the City Charter and Code of Ordinances - City of Milwaukee or consult the local Municipal Research Library for clarification on frequently asked-about ordinances.

ADUs in Milwaukee must conform to the Unified Dwelling Code, which stipulates requirements for permits, fees, and the legal responsibilities of property owners. For detailed information about this code, one can review the relevant Milwaukee Code of Ordinances.

Comparison with Other States and Local Jurisdictions

When considering ADU policies outside of Milwaukee, it becomes evident that there is considerable variation in how ADUs are authorized and regulated. For instance, California has enacted state laws like AB 1033, giving local governments broad power to authorize ADU sales. Individuals interested in this can access details from legal firms specializing in local government laws, such as Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP.

In contrast, states like Oregon and Washington have their unique takes on ADUs, with Oregon focusing on reducing barriers for ADU development and Washington on encouraging ADUs as an affordable housing option. There is a growing trend of more progressive ADU legislation in these states, reflecting broader objectives to combat housing shortages and increase urban density in a sustainable way.

Meanwhile, Florida and Colorado have also seen moves towards more flexible ADU policies, aiming to leverage this housing form to meet demand. These variations across states highlight the importance of localized control over ADU regulation, permitting each community to address its housing needs in alignment with its specific goals and constraints. The ADU Model State Act and Local Ordinance provided by AARP is a comprehensive resource that compares optimal and minimal legislative frameworks for regulating ADUs across jurisdictions.

Financial Considerations for Homeowners in Milwaukee

When homeowners in Milwaukee consider building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), they must assess the financial impact on their property, from property value changes to taxation, as well as explore financing opportunities specific to ADUs.

Impact on Property Value and Taxes

Building an ADU can potentially increase a homeowner's property value by providing additional livable space or a separate dwelling. However, an increase in property value often leads to higher property taxes, as the property's tax assessment may rise to reflect the new addition's value. Homeowners should consult with local tax assessors to understand how the construction of an ADU might affect their tax bill.

ADU Financing and Funding Opportunities

Financing an ADU construction can be done through traditional means like home equity loans or specialized ADU grants and lending programs. For example, in some regions such as California, eligible residents have access to individual ADU grants, which reduce the out-of-pocket expenses. While such programs may not be available in Milwaukee, homeowners should research and seek out local and state funding opportunities, as well as consider various lending options to finance the project.

Housing Policy and Community Impact in Milwaukee

Milwaukee's housing policies, particularly those surrounding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), play a significant role in shaping the city's landscape and addressing housing affordability. These policies not only offer diverse housing options but also contribute to neighborhood dynamics and the shifting demands of the housing market.

Housing Affordability and ADUs

ADUs, such as garage apartments or basement suites, provide an innovative solution to the growing housing affordability crisis. In cities like Milwaukee, ADUs are encouraged as a means to increase the supply of affordable housing without altering the character of neighborhoods. They serve as a less expensive alternative for renters and a source of supplemental income for homeowners. The presence of ADUs impacts the availability and diversity of housing options by offering a cost-effective choice amidst a competitive housing market.

Neighborhood Dynamics and Demographic Changes

Neighborhood dynamics are influenced by Milwaukee's ADU policies, which accommodate demographic changes such as the aging population and smaller average household sizes. By facilitating the integration of ADUs within existing residential areas, the policies aim to preserve the fabric of neighborhoods while meeting the evolving demand for housing. However, there are arguments that while ADUs contribute to increased housing stock, they alone cannot resolve the multifaceted housing shortage. The dynamic interplay of state and local objectives continues to shape the character and housing policy outcomes in Milwaukee.

Case Studies and Practical Applications in Milwaukee

The exploration of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) offers insights into scalable housing solutions. Specific case studies provide practical applications of how ADUs have been successfully integrated within urban settings.

Examples of Successful ADU Implementation

Los Angeles experienced a surge in ADU developments after state legislation eased restrictions. Homeowners capitalized on this opportunity by converting garages or building new backyard units. According to a Local Housing Solutions report, the city's proactive approach in streamlining permits has become a model, demonstrating significant growth in ADU construction.

In Seattle, the city's commitment to affordable housing led to legislative changes simplifying the creation of ADUs. They've allowed both attached and detached ADUs on the same lot, resulting in diverse housing options. Seattle's Accessory Dwelling Units: Case Study showcases various ADUs accommodating increased density without altering neighborhood character.

Portland has been at the forefront of the ADU movement, with a multitude of successful builds that focus on sustainability and community. Their strategy included waiving certain development charges, which prompted homeowners to build ADUs, as seen in a range of projects featured on Accessory Dwellings. They offer practical examples of ADUs being used for aging in place, rental income, and family-centric living solutions.

New Hampshire provides a unique look into ADUs in a more rural and suburban context. By offering significant leeway to municipalities, the state has allowed towns to customize ADU regulations to meet specific needs, as reviewed in the document Accessory Dwelling Units: A Provocative Alternative to Traditional Housing. Each town’s experience in defining these dwellings contributes to understanding how ADUs can serve different community profiles.

Resources and Further Information in Milwaukee

When seeking comprehensive details on ADU laws and regulations in Milwaukee, numerous resources are available. These include downloadable documents that provide in-depth knowledge, and organizations that advocate for and support the development of ADUs.

Downloadable PDFs and Guides

The quest for accurate information on accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can be well served by a range of downloadable PDFs and guides. A crucial document is the "Accessory Dwelling Units" report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which offers nuanced insights into the state of ADU development in Milwaukee.

Additionally, the City of Milwaukee has codified its regulations which can be directly downloaded: "CHAPTER 240 ONE AND TWO FAMILY UNIFORM DWELLING CODE." This comprehensive guide is vital for anyone looking to understand the specifics of construction, permits, and legal responsibilities related to ADUs.

Organizations Supporting ADU Development

Organizations play a pivotal role in supporting the development and advocacy of ADUs. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a leading voice and offers extensive resources and guidance on ADUs, aiming to improve housing options for the elderly.

For local support, interested parties can connect with groups such as, which, though not specific to Milwaukee, provides general advice and promotes the broader acceptance of ADUs. Their website is a repository of knowledge for anyone wishing to learn more about this housing option.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility criteria for constructing an ADU in Milwaukee?

In Milwaukee, homeowners must consult with local zoning officials to determine if an ADU is permissible on their property. The detailed site plan and adherence to local zoning laws are critical qualifications for eligibility.

What building codes must be adhered to when developing an ADU in Milwaukee?

Developers must follow the chapters SPS 320 to 325 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, which have been adopted by Milwaukee. This includes obtaining all necessary permits and fees for construction, additions, alterations, and repairs.

How does the City of Milwaukee Code of Ordinances impact ADU development?

The City of Milwaukee's Code of Ordinances provides specific parking regulations and restrictions on property use that can affect ADU development. For example, limitations on parking in the front yard and vehicle storage must be considered.

What are the maximum allowable dimensions for an ADU in Milwaukee?

To find information on the maximum dimensions allowed for ADUs in Milwaukee, consult the city's official zoning and building regulations as they regularly update these details to adapt to housing needs.

Are there specific property violations to be aware of when maintaining an ADU in Milwaukee?

Property owners must ensure their ADU does not violate ordinances such as parking more than four vehicles outdoors or having vehicles without license plates parked for over 30 days.

What permits are required for building secondary structures, such as pergolas, in Milwaukee?

For secondary structures like pergolas, Milwaukee requires adherence to local construction codes, which includes obtaining appropriate permits to ensure safety and compliance with the city's ordinances.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal, financial, or tax advice. Consult your own legal, financial, or tax advisor for matters mentioned here. The information on this site is general in nature. Any description of coverage is necessarily simplified. Whether a particular loss is covered depends on the specific facts and the provisions, exclusions and limits of the actual policy. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any of our policies. You should read the policy for a complete description of coverage. Coverage options, limits, discounts, deductibles and other features are subject to individuals meeting our underwriting criteria and state availability. Not all features available in all states. Discounts may not apply to all coverages. Steadily is not liable for any actions taken based on this information. If you believe any of this information may be inaccurate please contact us.

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