Victoria Granny Flat Rules -The Complete Summary Here
Victoria has always had some of the strictest regulations on granny flats in Australia. But they have come a long way in the last few years. It is not impossible to build a granny flat, you just need to know the regulations. A basic rundown of the regulations are that:
You must have a minimum property size of 450sqm. A granny flat may be referred to as either a second dwelling, or a Dependent Person’s Unit (DPU).
A DPU also requires:
Its own entrance
To be self-contained.
To be occupied by a person dependent on the person/s in the main home, such as a parent, grandparent or teenage child, only one of which can live in the unit at any given time.
Either to be a movable building, or to be easily removable – whichever you Council insists upon. This is so the granny flat can be removed as soon as the dependent stops living there.
DON'T PAY A FORTUNE FOR YOUR GRANNY FLAT. Find out how to deal with council and build a granny flat for the lowest cost possible. Learn More.
A “second dwelling”, on the other hand, requires it to be:
In the correct “zone”.
The only second dwelling on your property – no other DPU or dwelling allowed.
Built in conjunction with the main dwelling – on property that is part of the same title.
Not be greater than 5m in height or have a floor area that exceeds 60sqm.
So there is a difference between what is classified as a “second dwelling”, and what is a “DPU”, which I will go over today. I will also cover how you can build these on your Victorian property.
Going over these rules now will save you a headache later on
I will discuss the costs of building a granny flat, and what you can have in your dependent persons unit, before it is looked at like unit that is “too” self-contained, taking it into the “second dwelling” category. I will cover transportable building regulations including your “granny flat” options. I will provide you with a list of recommended granny flat builders in and around Melbourne. I will discuss what Councils’ can do if you are seen to be using your DPU as a private rental, and lastly, what benefits are gained from a resale of a DPU.
What Is a Dependent Persons Unit?
A Dependent Person’s Unit is defined as being a removable or moveable building that is on the same lot as an existing dwelling and is used to provide accommodation for a person dependent on a resident of the existing (main) dwelling.
Can You Build a Granny Flat (Dependent Persons Unit) on Your VIC Property?
Potentially yes, potentially no, I’ll cover this in depth below.
Firstly, you must have a minimum block size of 450sqm.
You will need to find out whether your building project needs a planning permit, a building permit, or both.
These permits are necessary by law, as they are designed to protect you, so you will probably need a building permit.
But generally speaking, your local Council may let you get away without having a planning permit for your DPU. Due to the Building Regulations 2018, you may not need a planning permit if your granny flat meets certain criteria;
Your granny flat must be a Dependant Person’s Unit (DPU)
A DPU is a second dwelling on your land for a person dependent on the person/s in the main home:
Such as a parent, grandparent, or teenage child
There must be only one person allowed to reside in the unit at any one time.
A DPU must be self-contained, meaning it must have:
A kitchen, living area, bath or shower, and toilet.
They usually share their sewerage and water services with the primary dwelling.
Further regulations of a DPU are that:
There must be only one dependable person allowed to reside in the unit at any given time.
It must have a separate entrance.
The DPU must be self-contained, to the extent that is considered necessary depending on what the dependent can utilise in the main home (see the sub-heading below for further clarification).
Some Councils require the DPU to be easily removable. Other Councils require it to be a building that is movable, which is classified as being constructed from non-permanent materials, such as, no masonry. This is a dwelling that is built/manufactured with intent to be easily and readily moved from site to site. Either way, this is so that it can be easily removed from site immediately after the dependent person ceases to live there.
When Does a Dependable Persons Unit Change to Being a Second Dwelling?
With this, the clue is in the name itself. A “Second Dwelling” is just that – a separate dwelling.
So, if the building was not removable/moveable and/or not being used to provide accommodation for a person/s dependent on a resident of the main dwelling, then it would be classed as a second dwelling
This definition is not clear-cut. Basically, you would consider a self-contained unit to have everything you need, such as its own kitchen, its own shower, and its own toilet. However, with a DPU you can still potentially have these – this would be dependent on what is in the main dwelling itself, and whether it is considered necessary.
But essentially, working on the basis that if any of the facilities that are required in the DPU (kitchen, living area, bath or shower, and toilet) are detached from the main dwelling, setting these aside for the exclusive use of the occupants of the second dwelling is a good idea – actually, considered necessary for what is classified as a “second dwelling”. Tricky, I know. I will go over this under the next sub-heading.
Both a building permit and a planning permit would also be required for this.
Meet all overlooking, rear, and side setback regulations.
Allow for solar access to open space.
Include a kitchen sink, an area where food can be prepared, a bath or shower, and toilet or washbasin, so it can be classified as self-contained.
I do suggest that you check with your local Council about their exact design requirements, as these will vary from Council to Council. One you may get away with, though, is you may not need provide a car park for the occupant.
Who Can Live in a Second Dwelling In VIC?
If you get approval for a second dwelling, unlike a Dependent Persons Unit, there are no requirements around who must live in the dwelling.
So, you do not have to house a person dependent on a resident of the main dwelling – you can accommodate whomever you wish, and finally so.
Does This Mean the People of VIC Can Rent Out a Second Dwelling?
Well, it seems logical to make the assumption that is you are using the second dwelling to house a person whom is not a family member, or dependent upon a member of the main dwelling, that you should be able to charge them rent for doing so.
I have good news for you, Victorians! You are finally allowed to do so.
I was told that “from a planning point of view, a dwelling is considered a dwelling, regardless of whether it is to be owner occupied or rented out”.
So yes, it is your choice in who you accommodate, and what you charge them in rent to live in the second dwelling.
For more information on building contracts, visit Consumer Affairs Victoria’swebsite.
How Long Does the Council Permit Take?
Council approval processes vary somewhat between Councils, but, in general, you will have to go through one or both of the two approval processes:
You may need to lodge to get a planning permit (what we often call a Development Application) first.
You will need to get a building permit.
Getting a planning permit can take longer than getting a building permit, as each application for this permission must be examined thoroughly by your local Council. To be submitted with this, Council will require detailed plans and specifications, such as:
A current copy of your title (one that is within three months of age).
Complete copies of any agreements entered into, or Section 173 Agreements that are registered on the title.
Details of what you propose, including the description of what you are submitting and any other applicable information, for example, the reasons for the setbacks, size, removal of vegetation, and if warranted, any excavation or fill.
Site plans, floor plans, and elevation plans drawn to a befitting scale that is dimensioned in full.
It is important to note here that all Councils have different needs, and so again we do suggest checking with yours’ first as to their exact requirements. This information can normally be found on their website, or by calling or visiting them in person.
The time it takes for approval will depend on your location. But on average it takes roughly 45 calendar days to process an application if all required information is provided. To help with the speedy processing, ensure all necessary documentation is provided upon submission of your application.
Transportable Building Regulations in Victoria
Transportables are a movable building. Therefore, they classify as a DPU that can be built on the same lot as your primary dwelling.
Movable units are self-contained, movable buildings that can be set up as a DPU.
They are mainly for the elderly, or people with a disability or support needs, so they can live independently.
The same rules that apply to a DPU apply to a movable unit. You may consider a prefabricated granny flat – one that is built off-site. Learn more about these in this post of mine.
List of Granny Flat (DPU) Building and Design Requirements
If your intention is to build a DPU, there are a list of specific requirements you many need to submit for a planning permit. These requirements show that the DPU can be removed when it is no longer required on-site.
These design specifics may be:
Ensuring certain parts of the frame are screwed together, not all nailed together as a permanent structure
The granny flat is built upon stumps or piers, not on a fixed concrete slab
The wiring and plumbing can easily be dismantled and put back together elsewhere.
There are other specifics, however the above highlights the things that Councils need to see.
What Can the Council Do If You Are Seen to Be Using the DPU As a Private Rental or AirBnB Guest House?
The laws in Victoria do not allow renting a DPU to gain additional income.
Councils’ belief was that these dwellings did not meet the definition of a “dependent persons’ unit” and “movable building”. It was actually their belief that over time, these dwellings were being built under the guise of being a DPU, but were getting larger, and had intentions of becoming secondary dwellings.
Moving a structure larger than a full sized RV, could mean some complications
The exact definition of a DPU is that it is a “moveable building on the same lot as an existing Dwelling and used to provide accommodation for a person dependent on a resident of the existing Dwelling”.
A movable building is classified as “a structure, other than a tent, caravan, or vehicle, which is designed to be moved from place to place on more than one occasion”.
So, what happened in these cases? Well, Council sought declarations from the Tribunal that these buildings did not meet the guidelines of being movable, or a DPU. These cases went to Court, over the uncertainty of whether they were “designed to be moved”.
After many arguments, the cases were dismissed and an order sent to the Minister for Planning, to consider if any clarification was warranted.
However, the Victorian laws are not so lenient when it comes to renting outside of the family, to a non-dependent. If you are seen to be gaining income from a DPU, such as by using it as a private rental or an AirBnB, the Council have every right to take you to the Tribunal. In many cases, there have been DPU’s that have been ordered to be removed immediately, and this often comes with excessive fines.
What Are the Benefits for the Resale of a DPU?
This is a tricky question to answer. We have clearly discussed some Councils insist on a DPU being a movable or easily removable building, so that the DPU can be removed once the person that it was built for stops living there. However, most Councils have no record of where the DPU’s have been built, or system that follows up what happens once the dependent has ceased living there.
Meaning, many Councils admit that they do not enforce or monitor the removal of the DPU, so you can check with your local Council first.
Victorian laws do not permit rental outside family for a DPU, so investing in a DPU does not allow for an extra source of income. But if looking at selling your property in the not-too-distant future, the value of your property could very well be significantly increased by the DPU. There’s also the chance that your property might remain on the market longer, to find the right investor.
Other benefits of a DPU are that many can be relocated easily, which makes them ideal for those who want a relocatable home.
When building a granny flat, there are two main factors that will decide whether you have a successful application. Your land size must be a minimum of 450sqm.
The other is the purpose of occupancy, as Victoria has the most severe granny flat rules in our country, so it is not always easy to get approval for a granny flat that you intend on renting out.
It is easier to be approved to house a dependent family member in a granny flat. So, if you call it a “dependent person’s unit” (a DPU), approval is more likely. A DPU is, for example, for a family member to occupy due to health or economic reasons.
Some Councils will insist on a DPU;
Being a ‘movable building’, or one that is easily removed.
Council regulations say the DPU must be removed once the person it was built for ceases to live there. However, the best piece of advice that we have been given is that you just must convince and satisfy your Council that your DPU is designed to meet their regulations – whether that is that it is removable, or moveable.
A second dwelling, on the other hand, is a permanent dwelling. So if you are one of the lucky ones who are able to get approval for this type of granny flat, it does not have to be removable, and you are finally allowed to use it to accommodate whoever you like and gather rent from it as well.
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