The West

A re-elected Liberal Government will allow residential granny flats to be rented by people other than relatives of homeowners in a bid to boost affordable housing options in WA.

In the Liberals' second announcement in as many days in the Labor-held seat of Joondalup, Planning Minister John Day also pledged $60 million to redevelop bigger Department of Housing blocks into 500 new affordable homes over three years.

Mr Day said currently granny flats in most local government areas must be used by family members or the homeowner themselves.

He said the proposed changes to the State's residential design codes would scrap this restriction.

"So-called 'empty nesters' and seniors can unlock equity in their homes and receive a regular income, or provide space for a carer to live close by in their aging years," Mr Day said.

"There is also potential for students and young people looking for affordable accommodation to rent granny flats."

Mr Day said the allowable floor space for granny flats would also be increased from 60sqm to 70sqm, though normal planning requirements around setbacks and density would continue to apply.

The restrictions have already been lifted by the City of Fremantle and Town of Bassendean.

Mr Day said it was an outdated restriction that many people would be unaware existed.

WA Local Government Association president Troy Pickard said the sector had been lobbying for the changes.

He said though a granny flat would be included in the Valuer-General's assessment of a property he could not say whether it would increase household rates.

Granny Flats WA managing director Mike Nicholls said his advice was a granny flat added $30 or $40 to a $1000 annual rates bill.

He said since the City of Fremantle allowed granny flats to be rented out inquiries had increased dramatically.

Mr Day said the Department of Housing would develop 200 blocks 1000sqm or bigger that were vacant or contained just one dwelling.

He said of the 500 new unit-style homes to be built, half would be made available for purchase under the means-tested State Government shared equity program, with the remaining half sold on the private market.

Department of Housing tenants living in the 100 single-dwelling homes would be rehoused, though the department would take up opportunities as families vacated homes.

Mr Day said the sales of the homes would make the program cost-neutral with the $60 million used to relocate tenants.

The West Australian

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