The prices of housing in the larger Australian cities and the cost of renting are constantly in the news. Yet one thing we don’t hear much of in Victoria is the ‘Granny Flat’.
It came to mind for me over the holiday period when I was visiting my daughter and her family in Singapore. They are contemplating moving back to Sydney and I jokingly said well you had better find a house with a granny flat or room to build one.
Granny flats were something I grew up with in NSW. Many family friends had their granny/nanna living in a flat which was usually attached to the house at the back. They tended to be more like a studio – one large room with living and bedroom in the same room and a tiny kitchen in one corner. A small bathroom was off the main room.
Now I am not sure how many of us are called granny anymore. For some reason I became grandma to my grandchildren and flat – I haven’t heard that in a long time. Somehow flats morphed into apartments and sounded much more swish than the furnished flats of my student days.
Interestingly NSW changed their planning laws in 2009 so that affordable rental housing could be delivered. In that State there does not need to be a family connection for the occupant to the owner of the principal residence.
It has been very positive for investors as there is no stamp duty and there can still be tax benefits. The construction of a granny flat can be done for as little as $100,000. Mr Google shows various companies that supply pre-built granny flats which look like mini houses.
In Victoria things have not moved as quickly though the Andrews Government has pledged to review the rules around granny flats.
Technically our State Government and local council laws say that a Granny Flat or Dependent Persons Unit (DPU) may only be built for a ‘dependent person’ and that person is reliant on a member of the principal residence.
The rules also state that once the dependent person has moved from the property then the granny flat must be moved or taken down.
And we are short of affordable housing!
Granny flats in Victoria do not need to have separate driveways or car parking and can link their power and water services to the main residence. This differs from a dual occupancy or a subdivided block.
If this is of interest it might be worth a call to your local State member to express your view about the situation in Victoria.
I think it would be great to have one which your kids might use for nominal rent as they save for a deposit instead of living in the garage which was common in yesteryear. Then when they vacate there could be a little rental earner in the backyard.