What are Bright in Your Own Backyard's eligibility requirements?

  • Your property must be residentially zoned and located within East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Pacifica, or an unincorporated area of San Mateo County.
  • You must own your home and occupy it as your primary residence at the time of application and throughout the second unit construction process.
  • Once your second unit is completed, you must occupy one unit (either the primary home or the second unit) and rent out the other to a bona fide tenant, which may be a family member, a friend/acquaintance or someone brand new to you.
  • You must commit to rent one unit (either the second unit or, if you choose to move to the second unit, your primary home) for a period of at least 3 years following completion of your second unit. If you stay in your primary home, the completed second unit must be rented at a rate that is affordable to tenants who earn less than the Area Median Income in San Mateo County (see below for details).
  • You must have access to financial resources to fully finance the design and construction of your second unit. Bright in Your Own Backyard offers free feasibility and project management services but not design or construction capital. We hope to connect homeowners to financial resources to support construction costs in future iterations of Bright in Your Own Backyard.
  • You must agree to participate in Hello Housing-approved landlord and fair housing training prior to entering into a lease with a tenant.
  • Because this is a pilot program, an important aspect is our evaluation of what worked well for homeowners and what could be improved. You must agree to participate in our evaluation activities, such as filling out occasional surveys and engaging in interviews about your experience in the pilot. Homeowner feedback allows us to improve processes and (we hope!) showcase successful projects to inspire other homeowners to build an ADU on their property.

What are Bright in Your Own Backyard's rental requirements for my second unit?

  • You agree to enter into a lease with a minimum one-year lease term.
  • Within 3 months of your second unit receiving a Certificate of Occupancy (which your building department will issue to confirm your project is complete and ready for occupancy) and for a period of at least 3 years, your second unit (or your main home if you move into the second unit) must be rented to a bona fide tenant (which may be a friend or family member) pursuant to a written lease.
  • You agree to inform Hello Housing of all tenancy starts and stops within the performance period of 3 years. Any new leases or lease amendments entered into during the performance period must be reviewed and approved by Hello Housing for compliance with program requirements.
  • Marketing, tenant applicant screening, and leasing must comply with fair housing laws.
  • Your lease and your conduct as a landlord (and any agents acting on behalf of you as the landlord) must comply with all applicable landlord-tenant laws, including state law/regulations and local ordinances.
  • You agree to provide notice to your tenants that their unit is subject to Bright in Your Own Backyard requirements (we will provide a simple addendum that can be attached to their lease).
  • Rent for the new second unit will be capped at San Mateo County’s 100% of Area Median Income rent limits for a performance period of 3 years. These rent limits are tied to the median household income for San Mateo County which is adjusted annually. As of 2019, applicable rent caps would be $2,822/month for a studio, $3,022 for a one-bedroom, and $3,626 for a two-bedroom. Please note that your specific rental market may not support your charging these maximum rents. We can assist you in estimating a reasonable rent range you could expect to charge as you make decisions about the second unit you are building. If you move into your second unit, and rent out your primary home, these rent caps will not apply to your primary home, however all other requirements do apply.

Still have questions after reading The Fine Print?

The Fine Print

As a nonprofit organization working on housing in the Bay Area, there is far more demand for our services than we have resources available. As a result, we work very hard to design our services to have the biggest bang for the buck. Our approach for Bright in Your Own Backyard has been to balance out homeowner eligibility with overall feasibility, and to balance the value of our services with the rental requirements that come with receiving them. Ideally, we can both agree that joining forces is a win-win!

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a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization

and proud affiliate of MidPen Housing

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