What Is a Granny Flat?


Quick Answer

A granny flat is a self-contained living space on the grounds of a larger single-family house. Granny flats are either inside another home, such as a basement apartment with a separate entrance, or in a detached structure on the property of a single-family home. This type of living space gets its name because it is often used as a way for aging parents to live near family while still having a separate living space.

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Full Answer

Granny flats go by other names, including accessory apartments, accessory dwelling units, mother-in-law units and in-law apartments. These spaces aren't always used for aging parents. They sometimes serve as a dwelling for a young adult family member or a nanny or other household employee. Other homeowners rent out their granny flats if local zoning laws allow the space to serve as a rental.

The size and amenities of a granny flat vary depending on the location and existing structure of a home. A granny flat is typically a scaled-down version of a full home with a bedroom, kitchen space and bathroom. The kitchen may be a small kitchenette-style space with a dorm-size refrigerator and a cooktop or microwave instead of full appliances.

Granny flats offer residents more privacy than they would have living in the primary homes, and they still have close contact with the family. The close proximity fosters relationships and provides a safety factor in case of emergencies.

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