As we all search for ways to increase the availability of affordable housing, councils across south-east Queensland could assist by changing their outdated regulations relating to secondary dwellings and the definition of a household.


The sizes of Secondary dwellings differs across South-East Queensland.

Moreton Bay Regional Council allows 45m2 with primary lot frontage of less than 15m, otherwise it can increase to 55m2. Rural residential properties can have 100m2 secondary dwellings.

Redland City Council and Ipswich City Council allows 50m2.

Sunshine Coast council allows 60m2 or 90m2 for rural residential areas except for Caloundra where it appears the area is restricted to 45m2.

Logan City Council allows 70m2 and allows these to be rented out to non-family members, and 100m2 in rural residential areas.

BCC and Gold Coast council areas stipulate a maximum of 80m2 for a secondary dwelling.


If all of these councils could agree to increasing the maximum size for secondary dwellings to 100m2 this would provide adequate space for a small- medium household to live comfortably.


Secondary dwellings are often created in the unused undercroft of raised houses or rear yards and provide a great dual purpose of a supplementary income for the main household and affordable housing for another small household.


Single person households are increasing in Australia and now around 20% of all households are individuals. These secondary dwellings provide a great mechanism for single person households who may have pets or just wish to live in a house rather than an apartment.




Councils talk about urban infill but are not adapting their regulations to allow for this to be undertaken with reasonable secondary dwellings sizes.


The definition of a ‘household’ in many council regulations is also outdated and not assisting with the provision of affordable housing.

Brisbane City Council defines a ‘household’ as an individual, or a group of two or more related or unrelated people, who reside in the dwelling. The common intention is to live together on a long-term basis and make common provision for food or other essentials for living.

Typically in low density residential areas, the following household regulation applies:-


Development comprises not more than 1 dwelling house and 1 secondary dwelling, occupied by 1 household comprising:

1.       1 person maintaining a household; or

2.       2 or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption; or

3.       not more than 5 persons, not necessarily related by blood, marriage or adoption;

4.       not more than 5 persons under the age of 18 and not necessarily related by blood, marriage or adoption, together with 1 or 2 adult persons who have care or control of them.

Development for a secondary dwelling is:

1.       a maximum of 80m2 in gross floor area;

2.       located within 20m of the dwelling house;

3.       occupied by 1 or more members of the same household as the dwelling house.

If the definition of households could be amended to allow for up to 7 persons not related by blood, marriage or adoption this would also allow for two smaller households to occupy a main house and dwelling house.

If we are serious about stopping the continual development of greenfield sites into new housing estates, council regulations need to become more flexible and relevant to today’s household makeup and assist in providing more affordable housing options.