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Granny flats a go as Qld aims to ease leasing pressure

By Kyle Robbins
27 September 2022 | 10 minute read
steven miles queensland deputy premier reb

New emergency planning changes will urge home owners to lease secondary dwellings in Queensland over the next three years.

As part of discussions at the Queensland Housing Roundtable — billed as an occasion to spur action on housing issues — the state government has detailed plans to remove restrictions on people who can live in secondary dwellings.

Legislation currently dictates that home owners can’t rent secondary dwellings, such as granny flats, “to anyone other than their immediate family,” according to Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning Steven Miles.

But since many home owners do have secondary dwellings built for family members who have since moved out, and especially considering many Queenslanders find themselves sleeping in their cars or tents, “it just makes sense to allow existing accommodation to be occupied by someone other than a relative,” he said.

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

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

Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch indicated that the idea was one of many raised at the roundtable, which identified “ensuring more accessible and affordable accommodation for renters” as the main housing challenge. 

“This shortfall has been exacerbated by flooding in southeast Queensland earlier in the year but is also an issue for many of the regional parts of the state too as interstate migration increased significantly in the past two years, she said.

She said the government has committed to establishing several avenues for renters to access “a greater range of places to live.”

“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, she said

In the eyes of Shannon Batch, president of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), the changes would go some way in addressing the Sunshine State’s housing challenges.

“This change will help deliver additional housing types that can meet Queenslanders’ needs. [It] highlights how good planning can help address our housing challenge and reduce the barriers to more diverse housing forms, she said

Mr Miles detailed that the changes would be reviewed in three years, with the onus placed on the home owner to ensure the dwelling is compliant with fire and building provisions.

The changes were welcomed by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), with president Antonia Mercorella applauding the innovative approach by the state government. 

“We know finding immediate solutions is very challenging in the current market given the backdrop of a construction crisis, so the ability to open up the option of granny flats to people outside of immediate family members is a great way we can make a considerable difference today,” she said.

She added that “it opens up new avenues to housing that are certainly much better than seeing people in our community facing homelessness or living in cars, tents, and hotel rooms.”

However, she did caveat her praise by outlining the need for community education to guarantee consumer protection.

“We don’t want to see a ‘free for all’ where there’s no regulation, leaving people vulnerable to being exploited. For example, we don’t want people to think they can suddenly use inappropriate structures such as garden sheds or garages and pass these off as granny flats, she said

Additionally, she called for home owners to conduct research into the tax implications of the changes both “in terms of capital gains tax at the time of the sale, as well as potentially triggering land tax liabilities under recent land tax reforms.”

Ms Mercorella concluded that the institute is “seeking clarification around how the new land tax regime will impact granny flats and the availability of the Principal Place of Residence exemption.”

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