Affordable Accessory Apartments- Residential
Homeowners with owner-occupied homes in the Town of East Hampton which are their primary legal residences are permitted to construct accessory apartments to provide additional affordable housing for the community. These additional housing units can be within the existing residence or in an accessory structure. Where all applicable provisions of the Town Code can be met the Office of Housing and Community Development encourages the creation of these important pieces to solving the East End housing crisis.
The Town also permits homeowners to rent out the primary residence and live in the apartment created under this program, should this result in better living arrangements for the landlord (homeowner) and tenant. However, the home, under this scenario, will become the affordable housing unit and must meet the definition of such in section 255-1-20 of the Town Code, which requires that the rent charged not exceed the established maximums (see below for more information).
The guidelines and requirements for apartments in residences can be found in section 255-11-63 of the Town Code. However, please see below for some key aspects of the program and frequently asked questions.
A General Overview of the Application Process
- A homeowner interested in building a new affordable accessory apartment, or in modifying an existing space to be used as an affordable accessory apartment, must begin by submitting a Building Permit Application and Application for Affordable Accessory Apartment in a Single Family Residence to the Building Department and follow all instructions and provide all required supporting documentation
- Once all necessary information has been provided to the Building Department, a Building Permit will be issued and all work must be completed in accordance with the conditions of this permit.
- When construction is completed, inspected, and found acceptable by the Building Department, a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (CO) will be issued to the homeowner.
- Upon receipt of a temporary CO, the homeowner must apply to the Office of Housing and Community Development for an Affordable Accessory Apartment Permit. Please follow all instructions and provide all of the required supporting documentation.
- Once the Office of Housing and Community Development issues its permit, it will inform both the homeowner and the Building Department and a permanent CO can be issued, closing the process
- Please keep in mind though that permits for Affordable Accessory Apartments must be renewed on a YEARLY basis with the Office of Housing and Community Development, or sooner if a tenant changes or the property is sold to a new homeowner (transfer of permit)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
- Who is eligible to construct and/or live in an Affordable Accessory Apartment?
Any homeowner who has an owner-occupied residence in East Hampton Township that is their primary legal residence may construct an Affordable Accessory Apartment and become a landlord.
Tenants do not need to meet income qualifications but must either be residents of the Town of East Hampton or, if the lease term is to be less than one year, actively employed in the Town of East Hampton. The affordable housing unit which is the subject of the permit must also be the only legal domicile of the tenant.
Homeowners/landlords may choose whomever they wish as a tenant and do not need to draw from a list or any other similar pool of prospective individuals, provided the above criteria are met.
- What is the maximum rent that can be charged?
The maximum rent that can be charged must be in keeping with the definition of an “affordable housing unit” as the same is defined in the Town Code. Generally speaking, this means no more than 130% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR) as established and updated on a roughly yearly basis by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The table below provides the current maximum permitted rents in the Town of East Hampton based on the number of bedrooms (note that Affordable Accessory Apartments may not exceed two bedrooms). These figures DO NOT include utilities, which can result in additional costs to a tenant.
2023 Maximum Rent per Month
- How big can the apartment be?
Detached apartments (accessory buildings) must be between 300 and 600 square feet in gross floor area.
Attached apartments (within the principal dwelling unit) must be between 300 square feet and 50% of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling unit up to 1,200 square feet.
No Affordable Accessory Apartment can contain more than two (2) bedrooms.
- Can the apartment be in a detached structure?
Yes. However, properties that already have an affordable accessory apartment, an artist studio, or a two-family/multiple-family dwelling are not eligible to have apartments in detached structures.
- How big does my lot have to be?
20,000 square feet is the minimum lot area required. This applies to both attached (within the principal dwelling unit) and detached (in an accessory building) apartments.
The property must also be big enough to provide two (2) off-street parking spaces
- Are there any prohibitions about where I can put an apartment?
The Affordable Accessory Apartment must meet all applicable property line setbacks for a principal structure in the zoning district in which it is located. For detached apartments (accessory buildings) all applicable principal structure setbacks with the exception of front yard setbacks must be met.
Affordable Accessory Apartments, whether within the existing footprint of the home, in an addition to a home, or in a separate accessory building must meet required setbacks from protected natural resources, such as wetlands.
- How much does a permit cost?
Building Permits are based on the scale of the construction project and can vary significantly. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Building Department. Applications to the Office of Housing and Community Development are currently $50 for the initial permit or for renewal of an expired permit, $25 for a renewal or transfer of permit.
- How long does the lease have to be for?
Generally speaking, leases should be for a minimum of one year. However, in consideration of the seasonal nature of much of the Town’s economy and workforce, leases of a term of less than one year are permitted if documentation demonstrating that the tenant is employed within the Town of East Hampton is provided.
- What are some other restrictions or pertinent considerations that I should be aware of?
- An Affordable Accessory Apartment may not be sublet
- The lot upon which the Affordable Accessory Apartment is constructed must have a valid CO for a single-family residence
- There is a limit on the number of Affordable Accessory Apartments permits. Currently, the Town only allows a maximum of 40 permits in each School District and 200 throughout the Town. Permits are issued in the order in which a homeowner applies to the Building Department
- The addition of an Affordable Accessory Apartment may trigger the need to update an already on-site sanitary system and/or the installation of a new one. Such activities will require the approval of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS). You may be eligible for a Water Quality Improvement Grant under the Town’s Septic Incentive Program. For more information on this program, please contact the Natural Resources Department
For more information about this program, please contact the Building Department and/or the Office of Housing and Community Development.