Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ June 2016

Here are the County Rules for Accessory Apartments

By Linda S. Perlman

Homeowners who wish to add an accessory apartment to their house can more easily do so under a streamlined filing process created as part of the Montgomery County’s rewrite of its zoning code.  An “accessory apartment” is a second living unit that is part of an existing single-family house, but has its own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living area, and entrance.  Accessory apartments are often used to house an aging parent (i.e., a mother-in-law suite) or a renter to help pay the mortgage.

Accessory apartments formerly required approval of a special exception to the zoning ordinance from the Montgomery County Board of Appeals.  Now, Class 3 Accessory Apartment licenses are issued by the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA), Licensing and Registration Unit.  This new license applies to accessory apartments that do not have a special exception approved before 20 May 2013.

Before offering an accessory apartment for rent, an owner must obtain an Accessory Apartment Rental License (Class 3).  The accessory apartment license requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

First Apply for a License

The licensing process for creating a Class 3 accessory apartment starts by applying for a license with DHCA (including the filing fee, application fee, and sign fee) and supplying the required supporting documentation (such as proof of primary residence and drawing with dimensions of the accessory apartment and parking spaces/driveway).  DHCA then reviews the application for completeness and notifies the property owner/applicant of any missing documents or information.

Once the application is accepted, a sign must be posted in the front yard and remain posted for 30 days after the DHCA issues a report of its findings on the property’s accessory apartment licensing review and housing code inspection (including lead paint — for properties built before 1978 — and smoke alarm requirements).  If the accessory apartment meets all of the requirements, then a license will be issued.  Assuming no violations, then the accessory apartment licensing process should be completed within approximately 90 days.

If the Accessory Apartment Rental License (Class 3) is denied, or an objection is filed, then an appeal may be taken to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings.

Our Neighborhood

A review of the Accessory Apartment Map shows only a few accessory apartments in the NFCCA area.  The only Class 3 Accessory Apartment license issued in the NFCCA area is for 10715 Cavalier Drive.  Accessory apartments at 1109 Loxford Terrace and 202 Hannes Street were approved before May 20, 2013, through the special exception process.  There also are Registered Living Units (“RLU”) approved for 315 Hannes Street, 408 Kerwin Road, 10910 Lombardy Road, 900 Playford Lane, 111 Snowy Owl Drive, 405 University Boulevard, and 407 University Boulevard.  A “registered living unit” is similar to an accessory apartment, but an RLU may only be occupied by a relative or caregiver and no rent can be collected.

Caveat:  Montgomery County also requires single-family homes and condominiums that are rented to obtain a rental housing license.  Multifamily apartments must receive a Rental Facility License before operating as rental housing.  These types of rental housing licenses are beyond the scope of this article.   ■

   © 2016 NFCCA  [Source:]