Tiny Homes and Dependent Person's Unit
A 'Tiny home' is not specified in the Bass Coast Planning
scheme. Accordingly, when considering 'tiny homes' the following definitions are relevant given they are defined in the planning scheme:
- Dependent Person’s Unit and;
- Detached extension (studio).
A dwelling is defined under the planning scheme as a building 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.
If a “tiny home” that is permanently placed on a lot contains all of the above features, it is considered to be fully self-contained and defined as a dwelling unless it meets one of the alternative definitions below. If a tiny home does not contain all the above features, it may instead be considered as a detached dwelling extension, such a studio, under the planning scheme if it is constructed on a lot developed with an existing dwelling.
The planning scheme assesses use of the land and buildings and works separately.
If a tiny home is considered a second dwelling a permit is required for the use and the buildings and work. If it does not include each of the above mentioned requirements it will not require use considerations and may not even need buildings and works considerations.
Detailed floor plans for tiny homes may be required for Council to determine which of the above definitions is applicable. Additionally, a tiny home needs to be constructed or fixed in a permanent location in order to be appropriately assessed or approved as a dwelling/extension if a planning permit is required.
A DPU (also known as a granny flat) is defined under the planning
scheme as a movable building on the same lot as an existing dwelling and
used to provide accommodation for a person dependent on a resident of
the existing dwelling. To meet the definition of a DPU, the building
cannot be a permanent structure, and should be relocated when it is no
longer inhabited by a dependent person.
Clause 73.03 of the Bass Coast Planning Scheme defines a DPU as follows:
movable building on the same lot as an existing dwelling and used to
provide accommodation for a person dependent on a resident of the
A movable building is defined in Clause 73.01 as:
a structure, other than a tent, caravan, or vehicle, designed to be moved from place to place on more than one occasion.
movable building should be designed in a way that allows the steps in
the process of moving (including deconstruction, transportation and
reconstruction) to occur easily. A tiny home may be considered a DPU
under the Planning Scheme only if it meets all of the above
requirements. A tiny home intended to be rented out as an Airbnb or
located on a vacant lot without dependency on an existing dwelling
cannot meet this definition.
Planning Consideration of DPU’s usually
only occur in a Bushfire Overlay and rural zones such as Farming Zones.
How a tiny home is defined impacts on whether or not it will require a planning permit under the Bass Coast Shire Planning Scheme. Tiny Homes can frequently trigger the need for a planning permit for both use (using the land for a specific purpose) and development (construction, alteration and demolition).
To determine what planning controls (zones and overlays) apply to a property search for the subject address or parcel in VicPlan.
Where specific terms such as ‘dwelling’ or ‘dependent person’s unit’ are not found in the Table of Uses under a zone, the term ‘accommodation’ is used. Pursuant to Clause 73.04-1 'dwelling' and 'dependent person's unit' are nested under ‘Accommodation’ which refers to land used to accommodate persons.
permit triggers for use are found within the ‘Table of Uses’ unique to
every Zone, whilst planning permit triggers for development can be found
in both Zones and Overlays.
The below predominantly identifies planning permit triggers within Rural and Residential Zones. However, regardless of zoning or whether or not a tiny home is being used as a dwelling or DPU, an overlay may trigger the need for a planning permit.
Overlays that commonly trigger a planning permit for buildings and works associated with accommodation include the:
- Bushfire Management Overlay
- Significant Landscape Overlay
- Environmental Significance Overlay
- Erosion Management Overlay and Land Subject to Inundation Overlay.
Building a tiny home if there's already an existing dwelling on the lot
If a 'tiny home' is considered a dwelling (i.e. contains a kitchen sink, food preparation facilities, a bath or shower; and a toilet and wash basin) and there's already an existing dwelling on the lot, than a planning permit is required as it constitutes two or more dwellings on a lot.
Building a tiny home if it's the only dwelling on the lot
If the tiny home is proposed to be the only dwelling on a lot, a planning permit is only required for the use and development of a single dwelling on a lot under 300sqm in size within Residential Zones including the General Residential Zone. It is important to note that the Table of Uses in many zones refers to dwelling requirements that need to be met. If these requirements cannot be met, a planning permit is required.
Building a tiny home in a rural areas (e.g. Farming Zone)
A planning permit is frequently required to construct a dwelling in Rural Zones. The most common Rural Zone in the Shire is the Farming Zone. A planning permit is needed to construct a dwelling on any lot less than 40 hectares in size. A planning permit is also required for any buildings or works (including a dwelling) within a range of setback distances specified under Schedule to the Farming Zone.
Tiny homes that meet the requirements to be defined as a Dependent Person's Unit (DPU) are frequently exempt from requiring a planning permit.
In Residential Zones including the General Residential Zone, a DPU is exempt from needing a planning permit as long as it is the only DPU on a lot.
In the Farming Zone and many other Rural Zone’s, a DPU is also exempt from needing a planning permit if it is the only DPU on a lot regardless of lot size. Note that a DPU will still need a planning permit if it is within one of the setback distances specified under the Farming Zone.
Similar to a tiny home classified as a dwelling, a DPU may still need to adhere to requirements as specified in the Table of Uses to be exempt from requiring a planning permit.
A registrable movable dwelling including a caravan, camper trailer or motor home is defined under the Residential Tenancies (Caravan Parks and Movable Dwellings Registration and Standards) Regulations 2010 as a movable dwelling that is, or has been, registered or is required to be registered under the Road Safety Act 1986.
An unregistrable movable dwelling is defined under the Residential Tenancies (Caravan Parks and Movable Dwellings Registration and Standards) Regulations 2010 as a dwelling that:
a) is constructed on a chassis or in prefabricated sections; and
b) once installed, is a freestanding dwelling with solid walls and roof; and
c) is not a registrable movable dwelling
A tiny home could be considered either a registrable or unregistrable movable dwelling. Classification is ultimately dependent on its dimensions and whether or not it has wheels. If a tiny home is able to be registered and considered similarly to a caravan, other permits and regulations separate to planning may be applicable such as a Camping Permit.
If a tiny home is registered or eligible as a registered movable dwelling it may be regulated very differently to a dwelling or DPU. An owner/resident of a dwelling can generally park a registered movable dwelling on their property indefinitely for storage purposes. However, a registered movable dwelling will likely be prohibited from being used as a permanent residence on private property due to local laws and Camping Permit limitations.
Can't find what you're looking for and would like advice?
For more information or to discuss your planning application, contact our Statutory Planning team by:
- Requesting a call back to speak to a planner.
- Calling our Statutory Planning Department on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211.
- Visiting the Wonthaggi Customer Service Centre (76 McBride Avenue, Wonthaggi) between 10am and 3pm every Wednesday to speak to a planner (please note that a planner may not be available between 12pm-12:45pm).
- Requesting a Pre-Application discussion (may include a telephone conversation, a face-to-face/virtual meeting or e-mail correspondence) before
your formal planning permit application is lodged with Council. To
ensure the meeting is beneficial, please ensure conceptual plans and
photographs are provided along with a detailed outline of your proposal.