ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – As housing in St. George is becoming increasingly difficult to find, people looking for a place to live are seeking alternatives, like living in accessory dwellings on other people’s property or moving into tiny homes. It’s also a growing concern with fire officials.

St. George is at 99% occupancy, according to city officials and they are now encouraging accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and tiny homes.

“Our ordinances for accessory dwelling units are meant for long-term rentals if families want to do that,” says Shirlayne Quayle, the Director of Economic Vitality and Housing for St. George.

Quayle says with record-low housing inventory options, more people are offering up parts of their properties for makeshift homes.

“It’s a strategy that many communities in the country are using to bring more inventory into the market for more attainably-priced housing, there are zones within the city and there are particular areas and situations where short term rentals is legal as well,” she says.

In 2020, St. George had 53 ADU applications and in 2021, that number rose to 64. Fire officials say it’s important to know the risks that could come with it.

“Unmaintained yards, you know a lot of vegetation, if it’s around the building you can have an incident on your neighbor’s property and if there’s piled wood or debris or things that probably should have been thrown away,” says Kevin Taylor, the Deputy Fire Chief for St. George.

Taylor says its important to have a smoke detector in any dwelling and a carbon monoxide detector. He says people should install a flammable gas vapor sensor in an RV to prevent a propane-related incident.

“You need to be more vigilant, because they may not be built into the place you’re sleeping,” says Taylor.

It’s important to reach out to city officials with questions in order to prevent an accident or a fine.