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Campaign group wants tiny home law change to be added to council meeting agenda

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A group of hinterland residents is responding to the ongoing housing affordability crisis by rewriting the local law around tiny homes.

The Tiny Community Living Campaign group is pushing for Sunshine Coast Council to support a modified local law that will make it legal to permanently allow tiny homes on private properties, with conditions.

Campaigner Helen Andrew, who has rewritten the ‘Establishment and Occupation of a Temporary Home’ local law, said the changes would allow one tiny home on a property of 800sqm, with a sliding scale depending on property size, up to five tiny homes allowed on properties of four hectares (10 acres) and larger.

Ms Andrew said some councillors had already shown support for the proposed local law. She hopes new councillors will also support the idea, to garner the six votes required for its introduction.

“We’re asking our council actually put that on the agenda of an ordinary meeting and vote for that new local law to come into place,” she said.

Currently, the local law allows one ‘temporary’ house – anything on wheels – for a maximum of four weeks in a 52-week period, unless the occupant has a permit, with conditions and for a $514 fee, that extends that to a maximum 18 months.

Related story: ‘Action plan’: tiny solution to big housing problem

Those rules are in place from when the law was meant for those living in temporary accommodation on their properties while having a house built.

Ms Andrew said there had been some claims the council needed state government input to change the local laws, but she disputed that.

“Our understanding is that, because it’s a subordinate law, our council has the ability to actually make local laws to fit the community’s needs, without state government involvement, except when it actually contravenes a state law,” she said.

A tiny home in Belli Park.

“There is no state law that says you have to have a permit, there is no state law that says you have to have a timeframe and, to date, I have yet to find a state law that says it is only limited to one per property.

“The local law will still be in place because it ensures that people who are under that local law make sure they look after their waste and amenity, and care for the land, and care for the space, care for the neighbourhood.”

But a Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson told Sunshine Coast News that state government approval was required to change the local law.

“Council appreciates the cost of owning or renting a home on the Sunshine Coast has been causing some people to consider moving into temporary accommodation,” they said.

“Council places a high priority on supporting people who need access to temporary housing. At the same time, council also has obligations to protect and manage community health and safety, the environment and reduce impacts on nearby properties and public spaces.

“Our first priority is to ensure everyone – including our most vulnerable people – is safe.

“Council has explored the proposals put forward by the community to extend the current local law to allow multiple temporary homes to be on one property (including a rural property), or to allow temporary homes for longer than 18 months.

A design by Coolum-based Aussie Tiny Houses.

“The use of temporary homes in these ways fall under the planning regulations which are set by the state government. Under the Local Government Act 2009, council cannot create a local law that conflicts with planning regulations or state legislation.

“For rural land located outside the urban footprint, the planning regulation specifically prohibits most forms of residential development.

“For people who are seeking support in relation to making arrangements for a temporary home (a bus or caravan, a tiny home on wheels, a motorhome, car or other vehicle or a tent) to be located on their property, council has avenues under the local law to support placing one temporary home on a property for a period of up to 18 months depending on the circumstances.

“Council works with applicants to make the process as easy as possible and provide assistance with the application process when it is required.

“Council recognises that the housing crisis is a situation that is difficult to quickly rectify, and all tiers of government (local, state and federal), as well as the private sector (including relevant industry associations and peak bodies) and the community housing sector need a plan to work together to effectively address the current situation.”

The debate over tiny homes on private properties has received attention locally following the threatened eviction of a mum and her children from a tiny home on a hinterland property last year.

Housing affordability was also raised repeatedly by the community in the recent local government elections.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

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