Three members of the Baltimore County Council have introduced legislation, Bill 42-11, that would allow accessory apartments in defined situations. The County has allowed “in-law” apartments in the main house or in an accessory structure under certain circumstances in the past. While many like the option of being able to move an aging parent or an adult child into a safe and convenient place during a transitional phase, others worry about the potential abuse of this option and fear that temporary, familial situations will morph into permanent, standard rental situations.

The bill defines an accessory apartment as a second living quarter within a principal family home or within an accessory building on the same lot as the home. The property must be owner-occupied, but the owner can live in either the apartment or the single-family home.

The bill specifies that such a use is deemed temporary and calls for bathrooms and kitchens to be removed when the accessory apartment is no longer used for the stated purpose. Utility meters must also be removed. Approval from the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections would be required for accessory apartments within the main home, and they would be limited in size to 2,000 square feet or 1/3 of the overall floor area of the dwelling (whichever area is smaller). Apartments within an accessory building would require a special hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings. Accessory apartments in separate buildings would be limited to 1200 square feet.

VPC welcomes member comments on this bill. It will be discussed at the County Council’s worksession on July 26, which begins at 2 p.m. on the second floor of the Old Courthouse at 400 Washington Avenue in Towson. A copy of the bill can be found at: