Elinor Smith

HELENA (UM Legislative News Coverage) -- A bill that would change zoning laws in Montana to make it easier to build an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, is on Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk, awaiting his signature or veto. 

An ADU is a smaller apartment or house on someone’s property they can rent or use for their own purposes and Senate Bill 528 would allow Montanans to build these buildings on their  properties so long as the building is no more than 1,000 square feet or 75% the size of the house, whichever of the two is smaller.

Under the bill, ADUs would still need local permits, but local governments would not be able to regulate the appearance or habitants of the ADU. Cities and towns would be allowed to require street maintenance to accommodate any new construction. 

Sen. Greg Hertz, R-Polson, sponsored the bill. He said it could provide Montanans a great tool to address the housing crisis. Some Montanans would be able to build ADUs, rent them out and make some extra money. And the other Montanans would be able to find a rental they like.

He said the amendments made by the House clarified definitions and made sure property owners connect the ADU to water and sewage. 

“This is a good bill to provide more housing to our communities,” Hertz said.

No opponents spoke during the bill’s final debate on Monday. The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday on a vote of 48-1. It passed the House 32-18 in early April.