Amended Planning Laws Allow Granny Flats To Be Rented Out to Anyone

Amidst a housing crisis that has forced many people to sleep in their cars or makeshift tents, planning laws have been amended to allow Albany Creek and other Qld homeowners to rent out secondary dwellings, such as granny flats. 

The amendment to the Planning Regulation has come into effect on 26 September 2022. The emergency planning changes follow a housing roundtable staged recently to address the urgency around the state’s multiple housing issues.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning Steven Miles said that right now, “homeowners can’t rent secondary dwellings, such as granny flats, to anyone other than their immediate family,” this is whilst there are homeless Queenslanders who sleep in their cars or tents.

Rent affordability took a hit

The Domain June 2022 Rental Report showed that Brisbane had the highest annual rental price increase among all capital cities, up by 16.9 per cent (YOY) for houses and 12.5 per cent for units. Sydney follows with a 12.7 per cent gain for houses and 11.7 per cent for units.

House rents in Brisbane rose to a new record high of $520 per week following a 4 per cent increase over the quarter. Likewise, unit rents also jumped over the quarter, also to a new record high of $450 a week.

Across all state and territory capitals, the median asking price of houses surged 12 per cent over the year to June, which is a new record, whilst units also jumped 12.2 per cent.

According to Queensland Government data for the April to June 2022 Quarter, the median weekly rent in Albany Creek (PostCode 4035) is $300 for single-bedroom flats or units, $595 for 3-bed houses and $490 for 3-bed townhouses.

During the same period last year, the median weekly rent for a 3-bed house is $480 and $475 for townhouses. No data is available for flats or units for the April to June 2021 Quarter.

The median weekly rent data is based on an analysis of new rental bonds lodged for each quarter.

Addressing the housing shortfall, increased cost of living 

A 2019 joint report by CoreLogic and identified the top 18 Brisbane suburbs that have the potential granny flats addition. The list puts Albany Creek in the second spot following The Gap. Whilst Morayfield, Deception Bay, Kallangur, Alexandra Hills, Redbank Plains, Narangba, Rochedale South and Ferny Hills round out the top ten.

“Building a granny flat is becoming an increasingly compelling proposition for homeowners in a relatively lacklustre market. Not only can it help to manufacture new capital gains, but it has the potential to generate rental income while meeting demand for more affordable housing,” CoreLogic Head of Research, Tim Lawless said.

A granny flat is typically cheaper than a standard apartment, which makes it an attractive and affordable option for renters on a budget, the report added. Brisbane has more than 200,000 properties that meet the criteria for granny flats development. That is 21.6 per cent of all properties in the city.

As discussed during the recently held Queensland Housing Roundtable, restrictions on people who can live in secondary housing have been removed to allow cheaper dwellings to enter the rental market. With the amended policy, the State Government hopes to encourage homeowners to make their granny flats available to renters other than their immediate family so that more people could have a roof over their heads.

“It just makes sense to allow existing accommodation to be occupied by someone other than a relative to provide more affordable accommodation for Queenslanders,” Mr Miles said.

“It also allows homeowners to earn rent, helping them meet the increased cost of living.

“We can move people into underutilized granny flats much more quickly than constructing new properties.”

The housing shortfall is an issue in many regional parts largely due to the increased interstate migration, which Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch said was further exacerbated by the recent southeast Queensland flooding.

“One of the housing challenges identified was ensuring more accessible and affordable accommodation for renters,” Ms Enoch said, who added that the lifting of these restrictions is “one of the many great ideas” raised at the roundtable ahead of the October staging of the  Queensland Housing Summit.

“These proposals will provide greater housing choice and diversity within lower density residential areas to accommodate smaller households such as students, single persons, older people and couple-only households.”

Homeowners are still to comply with fire and building provisions despite the changes, which will be reviewed after three years of implementation.

The measure was welcomed by the Planning Institute of Australia stating that they are “pleased to see action” just seven days following the Housing Roundtable meeting where PIA called for the reform.

“As Queensland’s demographics change, we need more diverse housing types to suit changing needs.  A granny flat can be an affordable option for many people such as students, retirees or young professionals,” PIA said.

“This common-sense change also shows how planning can play an important role in facilitating more diverse housing types that suit people at different stages of life.”