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Changes to secondary dwellings

To provide people with more access to housing options, restrictions on who can live in secondary dwellings will no longer apply across Queensland and will enable homeowners to rent out secondary dwellings, such as granny flats, to anyone.

An amendment to the Planning Regulation announced on 23 September 2022 will come into effect on Monday 26 September 2022.

This amendment removes the restriction of how members of a household live together. This recognises that the relationships of occupants in a dwelling and how they interact with one another should not be considered in a planning assessment of how land is used.

More information about these changes is available from our FAQs below.

Frequently asked questions

  • The changes to the Planning Regulation will remove controls around how members of a household live together. This recognises that the relationships of occupants in a dwelling and how they interact with one another should not be considered in a planning assessment of how land is used.

    The changes will provide state-wide consistency in the way a dwelling and secondary dwelling may be occupied.

  • The changes to the Planning Regulation regarding secondary dwellings will take effect on Monday 26 September 2022. The Queensland Legislation website will be updated at this time.

  • Any new secondary dwelling will be able to be rented to anyone, regardless of whether they are related to the occupants of the primary dwelling. This means more options for renters, and provides the opportunity for owners to receive additional income from renting their secondary dwelling.

    For any new secondary dwelling, you will still need to speak with your council to understand if you need development approval for a secondary dwelling as this has not changed.

    Any new secondary dwelling will still require building approval.

  • The changes do not remove the requirement to obtain any relevant development approvals, building approvals or requirements under other legislation, such as in relation to fire safety.

  • A secondary dwelling is used in conjunction with, and subordinate to, another dwelling on the same lot. Generally a secondary dwelling is smaller in size and scale, commonly known as a granny flat.  A secondary dwelling cannot be developed by itself as it always accompanies a main dwelling.

    A Dual Occupancy is two dwellings on the same lot or two dwellings on separate lots that share a common property such as a driveway and front yard area.  A Dual Occupancy may have two dwellings, of the same or similar size and scale as each other.

  • If you have an existing lawful secondary dwelling (associated with an existing dwelling house), you don’t need to do anything.

    If you have a secondary dwelling that did not need planning approval, or the planning approval for the secondary dwelling does not contain conditions about occupancy, it can now be rented out.

    In circumstances where your development approval contains conditions that restrict its occupancy, you may need to follow the usual process outlined under the Planning Act 2016 for making a ‘change application’ to change to the existing conditions.

    Before you rent your secondary dwelling, you will need to check if additional building works are required to be undertaken that need a building approval, particularly in relation to fire safety.

  • There is no change to the fire safety or building framework as a result of the amendments.  However, a change to the way in which an existing secondary dwelling is occupied may trigger the need for a building application. Each homeowner will need to ensure their secondary dwelling complies with building code requirements so accommodation for renters is safe as well as complying with any other local government or legislative requirements.

    For example, if the use of a single dwelling with a granny flat changes to a single dwelling with a rented out secondary dwelling, then additional fire and sound transmission requirements of the building code will apply.

    For information about any additional requirements, advice should be sought from a building certifier. A list of licensed certifiers can be found here.

  • Tenancy agreements are available on the Residential Tenancies Authority’s website. There is no change to how a tenancy agreement would be made. The Residential Tenancies Authority provides advice on the type of agreement that would be required depending on the form of accommodation. For more information about tenancy agreements visit Tenancy agreements | Residential Tenancies Authority.

For further information

For planning matters, queries can be submitted to bestplanning@dsdilgp.gov.au, or alternatively local governments can also contact their regional office of the department.

Last updated: 23 Sep 2022