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They’re Building Two-Bedroom Tiny Homes In Other People’s Backyards


This is the story about OBY House, a new organization that wants to lease a space in your backyard (for 99-years) and pay you $500 a month so that they can build a tiny house and rent it out to a qualified tenant long-term. Their mission is to create more affordable housing.

OBY will pay you up to $500/month if you let us build and rent out an affordable, sustainable, OBY House in your backyard.

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OBY House, Paying Homeowners To Build 576-sq.-ft. Tiny Homes in their Backyard, With 99 Year Lease Agreement!

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They’re starting in California, and leasing backyards for 99 years. If the home sells, the lease transfers to the new owners with the same terms.

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These tiny/small homes are built with wood construction and solar panels for increased efficiency.

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This is OBY’s way of creating more affordable housing using tiny and small homes. They pay homeowners $500 per month while taking care of maintenance and finding tenants.

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The floor plan includes not one but two bedrooms, so the house is ideal for families. What do you think?

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    November 19, 2020, 10:33 pm

    I don’t like it. It is the setting of a perfect nightmare television movie. Strangers, that you know nothing about and that answer to a remote authority to whom they pay rent and whom you never see, move into a home in your backyard, and soon there are 2 families living in the space for one, there is trash piling up everywhere or spilling out of many trashcans at the street. They have lots of company and end up usurping your part of the yard, maybe even your deck or patio. You discover that they have found a way to get into your house when you are not there and eat your food, use your bath (as they have so many people in their house that one bathroom is not enough), wear or take your clothes and other belongings bit by bit out of your house, but you can’t prove it, and you can’t step on their property (it is officially the property of the person who is paying you the lease money) to search for your things and maybe be able to call the police, and you can never get the person who pays you the $500 each month to call you back. It would be a nightmare existence, and in most states it takes up to 6 months to evict tenants, but wait! They are not your tenants, so you cannot evict them! The land officially belongs to the one who is paying you the lease money, and he is not going to evict them as long as he is getting the government subsidy payments for the rent (as he officially owns the property for the duration of the lease). So you get a lawyer to see if you can break the lease, but find that it is pretty iron clad unless you actually catch someone in the act of committing a criminal act. So you decide to sell your house, but who wants to buy a house with so many people in the backyard? Yes, this has all the makings of a scam and a disaster. My daughter-in-law is in housing management. I have heard all the nightmares for years, and I will tell you, this is a nightmare in the making.

    • Avatar James D.
      November 19, 2020, 11:23 pm

      Valid concerns, many well intentioned endeavors have failed for similar reasons. They seem to address some of them on their website, indicating they will work with each home owner to find the best tenant match.

      So they will handle the screening practices, arrange interviews, and make sure that their outreach conforms to all anti-discrinimation housing laws. While availability is reserved for households making below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) and prioritized for those filling essential service jobs (teachers, food workers, etc.) with long-established connections to the Bay Area.

      Doesn’t address all concerns listed but there’s some indication they won’t let just anyone become a tenant and the home owner may retain some say… But would be better if they were more transparent about how it will all work and what assurances they can give the home owner…

      • Avatar Marsha Cowan
        November 20, 2020, 12:34 am

        Thank you for the information, James. Teachers and other educated and trained individuals would not fall into the below 80% of the median income category. I know because I was a teacher. It would be those who are not educated or trained to have a job or career that makes sufficient salary to live in the “real” world. I think there should be a stipulation that whoever lives in this housing must be constantly enrolled in college or training with the intent of receiving a degree or certification in a field in which they can get a good job. Then after getting that job, they would move out and let another family have the house. There should also be stipulations that allow the owner of the main house and property (not the OBY leaser) to evict any family who does not adhere to the constant training or who breaks any other stipulation that is in the contract with the owner. There would have to be many, many safeguards in place to protect the owner for this to come close to working. I still don’t like it.

        • Avatar James D.
          November 20, 2020, 3:13 am

          Fair enough, and I agree that there should be safeguards. It helps no one if they leave themselves open to failure.

          Though, for San Francisco, the Median household income is $96,265, middle-class income range $64,177 to $192,530 in that area… The average teacher income in the area is $61,062 but first 2 years it’ll only be $55,564, and then $57,464 for the 3rd to 5th year… So, it’ll take 6 or more years before a teacher makes medium income for the area… So new teachers at least may qualify… Add, many are dealing with college debt… Just to point out it isn’t quite that easy even with an education in some areas of the country…

        • Avatar Jordan Harvey
          November 21, 2020, 10:32 pm

          Please delete this comment.

          That’s remarkably privileged and offensive. I’ve been fighting my University for almost 3 years now because they claim I need to “re-matriculate” credits that were part of my original academic plan when I first enrolled.

          They refuse to honor the commitment they themselves agreed to when I enrolled. And my case is not unique by any measure(currently over 200 other plaintiffs in my class-action alone. There are an estimated 400+ of these class-actions across the US currently).

          Estimated 10% of all drop-outs are in fact completions defrauded by the university/college system.
          Another 30% of all students who do not go to college simply can’t afford it, even with government and private sponsoring. The cost of housing in San Fran, San Diego, Etc. is literally second-highest in the whole country, and very close to highest in the western hemisphere.

          This is not about “real world failures”. This is about profiteering and runaway capitalism. Like the Tulip Craze of the Low Countries, and the Stock Crash of 1929, and the real estate crash of 2008….

      • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
        November 20, 2020, 1:01 pm

        That they are!

        • Avatar AJ
          November 21, 2020, 1:52 pm

          Oh, no no no no no!
          This is a horrible deal for homeowners, and a total trap. $500 is nothing for what they’re asked to give up, without even approaching the problem of selling their house when they get sick of having tenants. And really, that’s going to happen because they have no control. They get to have an “opinion,” but the predatory company “leasing” their space for “99 years” has all control over the building and the final say.

          Even if the homeowner were only considering this because they’re in danger of losing their home, $500 a month wouldn’t help at all, especially in the Bay Area. They’re not even offering to adjust for inflation and changing property value over the years, or any equity whatsoever in a home that’s literally on your property–MAYBE, 100 years from now, whoever bought a crumbling old house with a shack in the back would eventually own it outright?

          If you really want renters in your yard, then build a tiny home or buy an RV yourself. You’ll have equity, control, and the right to change your mind about whichever aspects of the arrangement you need to. You’d still be helping with the affordable housing problem in our country. The rental unit could be as large or as small as you like. You can choose to only rent to students, people w/o kids, etc. if you want to, and have a curfew in place, or a cap on guests/parties.
          Seriously, even if you have to put up the capital for a tiny home or RV yourself, you will surely finish paying for it before 100 friggin years from now. And you’d get the full rent amount, not less than half. Jeez.

        • Avatar Marsha Cowan
          November 22, 2020, 12:40 pm

          Anyone who qualified for this housing would also qualify for government aided college classes or training which, I believe, should be a mandatory for moving into a backyard house. Otherwise, who is it helping? The idea is to give a permanent address and low cost housing while working to get training for a career that would put one in a place to be able to move out and make room to help someone else, not to keep living off government aid. In that scenario, the owner of the main house would need to have safeguards and legal options to insure that this plan is adhered to. AS far as privileged, I held 2 or three jobs at a time to pay for my college because my family didn’t qualify for any loans, so my college debt was paid within a couple years after I graduated by my paycheck and my husband’s, not by any government aid (we were not that privileged), nor any wealthy relatives (there weren’t any), so it is rather prejudiced on your part to say my comment was “privileged”. Most of us work hard for what we have, it isn’t given to us by anyone, not even the government, so we are not “privileged” folk. There are some, however, who do need aid to make it to a place where they can stand on their own two feet. That is always the goal of aid of any kind–temporary and enabling the person to get to a place of financial independence. Therefore, education and training is a must have for this project to work.

    • Avatar Lou
      November 20, 2020, 1:09 am

      Couldn’t have said it better. Amazingly stupid idea. Anyone that signs up for this is INSANE

      • Avatar Marsha Cowan
        November 22, 2020, 2:32 pm

        Here is a link to matriculated courses versus non-matriculated sources.

        https://www.bestmastersdegrees.com/best-masters-degrees-faq/whats-the-difference-between-matriculated-and-non-matriculated-status

        Why should the government pay for classes that are not leading to a degree or certification that will help with employment? Government aid came into existence to help people train for jobs and careers so they could be financially stable. Choosing to take classes for any other purpose is a choice that an individual must pay for themselves. My taxes pay to help people become financial independent, not for them to take classes that do not lead to that end. However, this is not the forum for such a topic, so that is all I am saying on this here on this site.

        • Avatar Marsha Cowan
          November 22, 2020, 2:48 pm

          I could find nothing on “rematriculation”, so without a definition I can’t understand your comment except that perhaps you mean that colleges are not granting degrees or certificates when you finish all your courses because some of your credits have come from institutions not from the states, and now they are requiring you to complete those courses again in their institute. Am I right? That is happening to a friend of mine in AZ right now. I finished 4 years of college at a school in NC, but because the college had no SACS accreditation, NC would not even recognize my degree and I have never been able to be certified to teach, even though I went back and picked up 76 hours of science and math at a SACS accredited college later, hoping it would tip the scales in my favor and I would at least be able to substitute, but it didn’t. I had to move out west away from my family to be certified and to teach. I am one of thousands who find themselves in the same situation, but nothing will change it because standards can be set by whatever institution, and we have to meet those standards to get what we want from those institutions. Perhaps your law suit can change this.

    • Avatar Carol
      November 21, 2020, 12:47 am

      Yes this is a disaster waiting to happen. I can’t even get a druggie who moved in my Dads house out cause she said she’s a caregiver! But no papers to prove it or drug test! Already stealing things off the property a car was stolen

    • Avatar Richard Herrington
      November 28, 2020, 8:22 pm

      Sir: Sounds like you are very knowledgeable on this subject and what you state sure sounds like it could easily happen.

  • Avatar Sheila
    November 20, 2020, 1:19 am

    This is ok, but the idea of letting someone build a home in our backyard don’t fit right. I like my privacy and I am in CA. I wouldn’t know those people and that would really make me feel uncomfortable. You never know these days. It is a volatile time right now. CA is a state that infringes on us enough. Sorry but is how I feel. I don’t like intrusions.

  • Avatar Flo
    November 20, 2020, 1:20 am

    I agree with all 3 comments so far. But what I suggest is State, The Government donate land for this GREAT IDEA as well it would be nice if the wealthy would perhaps do so as well or if someone that has land to donate it or even a portion of it; that would be awesome. Thank you OBE.
    My idea is just what I plan to do if I ever gained wealth; it fits the love for people I have in my heart. I had less than a month started sharing my idea with others. So, in Jesus name wealth come to me now; can I get someone to touch and agree with me?

    • Avatar Mary Lou Bryant
      November 21, 2020, 11:30 am

      I agree with you 100 percent if l had a house l would do that some good to me.

    • Avatar Marsha Cowan
      November 22, 2020, 2:51 pm

      I agree. . .

    • Avatar Sheila
      November 28, 2020, 1:55 pm

      I agree 100%. Our govt has a lot of land that is usable for this.

  • Avatar Kathi Edge
    November 20, 2020, 6:17 am

    I agree with the need for affordable housing and applaud the attempt, but I agree it is a nightmare in the making for the homeowner. Perhaps there could be enough legal jargon put into the lease agreement to protect the homeowner, but then again, it is just a piece of paper and probably difficult to enforce. I’d pass.

  • Avatar Bob H.
    November 20, 2020, 6:22 am

    Sounds like a money maker for a slum lord. A nightmare waiting to happen. Three parties involved in your, so called, low income housing.

  • Avatar Gloria Hope
    November 20, 2020, 6:32 am

    I’m Gloria Hope from Michigan, and I approve!! I think this is a brilliant idea especially in the times we’re living in today! Brilliant!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      November 20, 2020, 12:54 pm

      So glad you’re into it!

  • Avatar Andrea
    November 20, 2020, 11:33 am

    I like the idea but for relatives only, for example as an in law suite or for a young couple or family starting out. I would prefer that the house be on wheels so it can be mobile so that the arrangement can be changed if needed. Strangers living in the back yard could be scary, especially in this day and age.

  • Avatar Phyllis smith
    November 20, 2020, 11:48 am

    It’s the 99 year lease for me that is the most absurd! Even if you are fortunate enough to get the ideal tenants every single time money is the motivated here. Property values will change every year. $500 for 99 years will eventually seam like pennies. This will be a part of your property you will never be able to enjoy again. In Washington state they are starting the same type program providing permits and home plans where you can have a modest sized home built on your lot but after that it is yours to deal with how you wish. Another program offered a 5 year lease to put a tiny home on your lot to house a needy family. After 5 years the tiny home is yours. I have not heard of any volunteers to comment on success or failure. For me…no to the 99 years!

  • Avatar Jo Klein
    November 20, 2020, 1:25 pm

    I think you would be better off doing smthg like this by yourself, without a middle man/third party. Granted your backyard is big enough. This way, you’d have a ve complete control of the situation, especiallly if you needed to evict the tenant(s). Who you put back there, all that good stuff. I’d separate the yard if its big enough so each household, has it’s very own, with bushes, palms, wtvr, a 6ft. cement or pvcy wall. Not for me I will say. Houses are too close together as it is. It does have the risk of going badly, whomever you choose.

  • Avatar Sheryl Brooks
    November 20, 2020, 10:40 pm

    I’m interested and I have vacant land instead of my backyard so please contact me

  • Avatar Diane
    November 21, 2020, 7:40 am

    Absolutely not! You’d be better off buying a tiny house on wheels and installing yourself. You can charge more than measly $500 a month, select tenants and evict them when you want.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      November 24, 2020, 1:55 pm

      Yes I think the ideal situation would be for municipalities to make it legal for homeowners to do just that. Unfortunately it’s illegal in most of the US still.

  • Avatar Joel
    November 21, 2020, 10:55 am

    If someone wanted this kinda situation why not have their own tiny home built and lease it out themselves? Or let a person with one on wheels stay their maintaining full control of their land and how much to lease for. It’s totally nuts giving up that control to some faceless company middleman. The wording on their website looks like a prime setting for identity politics to creep into it and end up losing your land over.

    • Avatar James D.
      November 24, 2020, 12:10 am

      Well, not that simple, getting land can be problematic and issues aren’t limited to just giving people more affordable housing as this also tries to address the growing number of people who are starting to struggle to afford the house they already own, thus the payments to the property owner as part of the deal that at the same time makes leasing the land easier and more easily affordable than buying land outright…

      Mind, in high cost areas like the Bay area, more and more people are selling their homes and moving and that’s a trend they want to try to stop.

      While part of the point of affordable housing is being able to place them near where they can have the most benefit, not out in the middle of nowhere where it would be harder to commute to work, have less access to resources, etc. and would also add cost to the development as they will likely have to add the cost of infrastructure on top of the buildings…

      There’s just plenty of valid concerns too, even with the best of intentions the fact is many of these programs have failed because there are always people who ruin it for everyone else and those running the programs have more often than nut underestimated those issues.

      It’s just not something that will have an easy solution… It can be done, there’s a few success stories out there, but it has to done right…

  • Avatar L Schaub
    November 21, 2020, 2:43 pm

    Please let me know when you expand to the East Coast.
    This sounds so wonderful and actually have property which this would be a perfit match.

  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    November 22, 2020, 2:51 pm

    I agree. . .

  • Avatar Tami Burgos
    November 22, 2020, 6:17 pm

    Why would you burden the middle class with this and require them to solve society’s ills? Get some of the uber wealthy do-gooders to donate some of their immense properties to this well-intentioned but ill-planned program. For instance, I understand Mark Zuckerberg has a 750 acre compound over in Hawaii that’s completely fenced in…maybe he’d like to help out. Oh, that’s right, the uber wealthy don’t want the common people living anywhere near them…. they are out of touch hypocrites; one and all…. This plan has horrific unintended consequences written all over it.

  • Avatar Sarah p.
    November 23, 2020, 12:24 am

    Not the best idea legaly- wise but if there were other ways to let people own the property and there needs to at least be an additional half bath.

  • Avatar Marie Leland
    November 28, 2020, 10:56 am

    I would love to have one built in my son backyard but I don’t think I can afford it because I am retired and I don’t get very much income. Marie Leland from Mesa Arizona .

  • Avatar Richard Lynn Herrington
    November 28, 2020, 8:31 pm

    In 1972, my mother built a small house in the back yard of her mother’s house in Houston, Texas. Within months after the house was finished and my mother moved in… her mother kicked her off the property and then used the house to rent out as her personal property. I learned right there to never build a house on land you do not own or a house that cannot be easily moved elsewhere. You can’t even trust your own relatives.

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