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Small 2nd Dwellings (Tiny Homes) - Recent changes by State Government

Recent years have seen a significant market develop for the "Tiny Home" movement, with some people seeking to minimise their building or environmental footprint, their burden of debt, or to simply seek an alternate source of income for their property.

Whatever the reason for seeking to utilise and benefit from the use of a Tiny Home, it is still important to make sure the Tiny Homes are compliant with the Local Planning Scheme and Building Permit regulations.

The State Government has recently introduced a suite of significant changes to all Planning Schemes across Victoria, that now may make the implementation of a "Small Second Dwelling"" on your property exempt from Planning Permit, subject to certain criteria being satisfied.

The land use term "Small Second Dwelling" has been included within the Planning Scheme land use definitions (clause 73.03), and the former definition of "Dependent Persons Unit"  is now removed. This change in definition means that a greater variety of use or tenants can use a Small Second Dwelling subject to criteria being met.

The definition of a Small Second Dwelling  is defined in Clause 73.03 of the Planning Schemes as:

" A building with a gross floor area of 60 square metres or less, on the same lot as an existing dwelling and used as a self-contained residence, which must include:

  • a kitchen sink
  • food preparation facilities;
  • a bath or shower; and
  • a toilet and wash basin."

The exemptions from Planning Permit introduced by the State government for a Small Second Dwelling do not apply within the Green Wedge Zone (GWZ) or Rural Conservation Zones (RCZ). Within these rural zones, a Planning Permit requirement still applies. These are the predominant Rural Zones within Yarra Ranges and many fringe Councils on Melbourne's perimeter suburbs.

The Bushfire Management Overlay and some other Overlays could also trigger planning permit being required for a Small Second Dwelling.

Other associated works (Earthworks, tree removal, water tanks etc) associated with a Small Second Dwelling, could be a planning permit trigger, even if the building itself is exempt.

 If a planning permit is triggered, the Building Surveyor won't be able to sign off on any Building Permit until the Planning Permit has successfully issued.

The addition of a Small Second Dwelling could result in potential tax implications to your property, so it is also recommended advice and consultation with your accountant be sought, so that any tax implications are considered as part of your decision making. An approved Small Second Dwelling will also likely to be rated separately by your local Council once approved and constructed, resulting in additional ongoing Council costs.

A Building Permit will always be required for the use and construction of a Small Second Dwelling on your property.

The costs of the build or purchase of a Small Second Dwelling are not insignificant, so before purchasing or entering a contract for a Small Second Dwelling for your property, it is highly recommended you discuss your proposal with your local Council or a specialist consultant, to ensure that you can use a Small Second Dwelling on your property and in the way that you intend to use it, or to seek any necessary planning permit approvals prior to proceeding.

The team at Thomas & George P/L can assist with any surveys of the site to assist with a Building Permit application (or town planning application if required). Please call our Lilydale office should you require any assistance.

Posted: Tue 16 Jan 2024


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