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Granny flats provide housing choice in tight rental market

Granny flats provide housing choice in tight rental market

The humble granny flat, known formally as a ‘secondary dwelling’, has been popping up in Queensland backyards for decades. As Queenslanders seek a variety of diverse housing options, homeowners are being encouraged to consider renting out their granny flats, providing prospective tenants with an alternative to traditional housing and increased social benefits.

Could granny flats help keep people in their current suburbs?

Sandra, 73, and her husband John, 80 recently started their search for a local granny flat after living in their children’s family home.

© Image courtesy of Sandra

“We’ve lived on the Gold Coast since 1997, and we needed to find a place that allowed us some independence, was affordable and close to the neighbourhood that we know really well,” Sandra said.

“Traffic has only gotten worse, and we needed a place that was suitable for my husband as he has mobility issues.

“We were looking for a granny flat as all the units in our area are way out of our price range, we are both retired and have a small dog which made it so much harder to find a place to rent right now.”

After placing an ad in the local classifieds, Sandra found that a staggering amount of people were in the same position as her and her husband.

“I think if more people let their space out, we would be able to stay in the area we are so comfortable in, and maybe even make new friends close by,” Sandra said.

Can granny flats have a positive social impact?

© Realtor, Tammy Vitale from Vitale and Co Property Management Manly

Tammy Vitale from Vitale and Co Property Management Manly, says Sandra’s story is all too common and a telltale sign of the current rental market.

“As one of the leading rental agencies in the Bayside, I am inundated with requests from people, mainly females over the age of 60 looking for a granny flat to rent,” Tammy said.

“Most are just trying to source independent living rather than sharing with people or living with family. Granny flats are the ideal solution to be able to offer somebody independent living with somebody who lives in front that can keep an eye on them.

“The other side of that story is that you've got women in shelters that can't find accommodation or they're in a relationship with somebody that they can’t get out of, in turn they can’t find alternative accommodation.

“Granny flats open up the doors in being able to offer more on the market for those women. It might not change overnight but at least it’s a start.”

Tammy also said that building social connection between tenants and landlords was also a benefit that she has seen coming out of the granny flat rental market.

“We see so many older women who do want independent living but also appreciate having someone close by to have a chat every now and then, the other side to that is that landlords also have that extra security on their property should they be away for work or holidays,” Tammy said.

Rising interest rates a motivator for homeowners

© Image courtesy of homeowner, Rachel.

With the housing needs of Queenslanders evolving due to family dynamics, working arrangements and space requirements, granny flats have the ability to create more housing supply and greater diversity of housing types within our existing urban areas.

Rising interest rates and cost of living were also major deciding factors for homeowner Rachel Crawford, who recently listed her granny flat originally built for her eldest son prior to him moving interstate.

“We had a brand new build sitting there and every time we watched the news, and everyone we spoke to said there was a real issue with rental shortage so we thought, why not? It will benefit someone in the area, it’s detached, private and fully self-contained so it doesn’t affect our lifestyle,” Rachel said.

“We are walking distance to the shops, public transport and of course the water.

“There are so many people who just can’t find the right fit for them at the moment, if we can assist them by providing them a place where they can live even in the interim then that’s great.”

Rachel also highlighted using granny flats as a launching pad for those wanting to enter the property market and for those new to a particular area, encouraging other homeowners to consider the flexibility of leasing to tenants for a six month lease.

“The great thing about that is that you’re not locked in, and if you consider having a property manager then the work is done for you, it really is that simple,” she said.

“My advice is to give it a go.”

Not just granny in the granny flat

Allowing people to let out their space was front of mind for the Queensland Government when changes were made to allow Queensland home owners to rent out their granny flats to anyone, not just immediate family.

Deputy Director-General of Planning for the Queensland Government, Tess Pickering, said the change would expand accommodation options for smaller households.

“We recognised the need for suitable housing immediately and moved quickly to remove restrictions which prevented granny flats being rented out to non-family members,” Tess said.

“A granny flat isn’t for everyone but they can provide a suitable housing solution for smaller households like students, older people, single people or couples.

“At a time when the majority of people on the social housing register are single people, including those over the age of 55, we need to think outside of the box for housing solutions.”

Do you have a granny flat you could rent out or a property you could put one on? Find out how to go about it: Secondary dwellings providing housing solutions | State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning

Last updated: 06 Nov 2023