Australia: Can I convert my shed into a granny flat without council approval? No!

by Merrill Phillips

Changing the use of a non-habitable area into a habitable area should not be done without council approval.

Council paperwork, reports and assessments far more onerous if approval sought retrospectively
The paperwork required at the beginning of the exercise is minimal compared to the paperwork, reports and assessments council will require after the work is completed if you did not obtain prior approval.

This is especially the case if the application is made some years after the building work was done. Council will require the property to comply with standards which are current today, not the standards applicable at the time the conversion took place.

Everyone knows that dealing with your local council can, on occasion, be difficult. However, it must be stated that the council's employees are just implementing legislation passed by state and federal government.

Illegal improvements and unapproved conversions found on both rural and urban properties
As property lawyers and conveyancers, we come across illegal improvements and unapproved conversions on a regular basis. This occurs more commonly on the sale or purchase of a rural property, however it is not unusual for a property in town to contain some unapproved works.

"The back veranda has been closed in to create an extra sleepout."

"Another shed was needed for the tractor and slasher, so we knocked one up."

"The barn shed was already there when we bought the property, so we just lined it, put a mezzanine floor in, put up some walls and now we rent it out."

Council action can include heavy fines and legal proceedings
When council is made aware of unapproved conversions or buildings, it will issue a 21-day notice requiring the appropriate application to be lodged, otherwise council will take action against the landowner. This action can include heavy fines and legal proceedings.

So, if you are planning to take the roller door off the garage and make it into a games room, get council approval first.

Merrill Phillips
Stacks Law Firm
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to News portal.