The most important things to know about investing in a granny flat

While granny flats are typically seen as the domain of teenagers or elderly relatives, they can also make highly-successful investment properties.

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Investing in a granny flat featureThe humble granny flat is traditionally seen as a way to add more space to your home. Maybe you’ve got a moody teenager who wants more space (while still enjoying the perks of living at home) or maybe your elderly mum or dad is looking for somewhere to live that’s close to the grandkids.

Granny flats can also be used as an investment property to generate rental income for you and your family. They’re relatively cheap to buy or build, easy to maintain and can provide a steady source of income. However, buying or building a granny flat as an investment property isn’t without risks, so read on to find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of investing in a granny flat.

Buying or building a granny flat

As housing affordability issues continue to hit people hard in Australia’s capital cities, it’s becoming more tricky to find an affordable, low-maintenance rental property in a desirable location. With this in mind, a granny flat could be a great way to use the space you already own to maximise your income.

Granny flats are typically defined as “secondary dwellings”, which basically means that they’re built on the same lot of land as the main dwelling. Granny flats are also “self-contained dwellings”, meaning they have a separate entrance and their own bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, laundry and living space.

There are several options for adding a granny flat to your property, such as adding a standalone building in your backyard or building a secondary dwelling as an extension over the garage. Wherever you choose to add the granny flat, it’s important to remember that it will need to have its own entrance in order to meet regulations.

What rules and regulations need to be considered?

Housing affordability issues around Australia have prompted a number of state and territory governments to introduce measures that make it easier to build a granny flat. Along with NSW, the governments of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT all allow their residents to rent out a granny flat to generate extra income. Unfortunately, this practice is currently not allowed in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

Before you buy a modular granny flat or start building your own, it’s essential to make sure your planned addition will be fully compliant with all the relevant laws. Check with your local council to find out what regulations apply in your area, but as a general rule your granny flat will need to:

  • Be built on a property that is zoned for residential use
  • Be built on a property at least 450 square metres in size
  • Be the only granny flat on the property
  • Be owned by the same person that owns the primary dwelling on the property
  • Have a maximum living space of around 60 square metres (this figure varies and typically does not include verandahs, carports and patios)
  • Have separate and unobstructed pedestrian access

Once you’re sure that your project will meet all the necessary requirements, you can apply for planning approval from your local council.

Further information in each state

  • NSW. You can find detailed information about granny flat regulations in NSW here.
  • Victoria. Rules in Victoria make it harder to get a granny flat approved, but it does depend on your local council. Learn more here.
  • Queensland. In Queensland it's hard to get approval for a granny flat unless you're renting it out to a family member. Every council has its own rules too. You can learn more about Brisbane city council's rules here.
  • South Australia. It's hard to get a granny flat approved in South Australia unless you're renting it out to a relative. You can learn more here.
  • Tasmania. The state allows granny flats but the rules vary by council. You can learn more about Hobart's rules here.
  • Western Australia. WA made their rules more flexible in 2015. You can learn more here.
  • ACT. The Australian Capital Territory also made granny flat rules more flexible. Find more information here.

How much does it cost to add a granny flat?

The cost involved in adding a granny flat to your home varies depending on the type of granny flat you choose. But generally you’d be looking at a minimum spend of around $100,000 to get the new residence up and running.

If you’re looking to build, there is also a huge range of options when it comes to the design and type of dwelling you want. From prefabricated and modular homes to dwellings built from scratch, your choice will be influenced by your budget, the designs available and the features you want to include in the granny flat.

If you’re thinking of adding a granny flat to your property as part of a renovation or extension, then costs could head north of around $120,000. You’ll also need to factor in engineering costs and possibly architect’s fees, as well as money for any existing or potential hazards such as asbestos.

Tristan’s Granny Flat Investment

Tristan granny flatTristan lives in a four-bedroom home on a 700-square-metre block in Sydney’s northwestern suburbs. He has a significant amount of space in his backyard, which is a chore to maintain all year round, so he decides to add a granny flat as an investment that can earn him rental income.

Tristan decides a modular kit home is the right fit for his property, and spends a total of $100,000 getting the home built and installed on site, with all the plumbing and electrics connected. As his property is located within 500 metres of a train station, Tristan is able to rent the two-bedroom flat out to a young professional for $460 a week.

Factoring in a budget of $2,000 per year to cover maintenance costs, let’s take a look at how long it will take Tristan to pay off his investment.

Rent: $460 a week

Total annual rental income: $23,930

Annual maintenance expenses: $2,000

Total income generated each year: $21,930

Time needed to pay off granny flat: 4.56 years

As you can see, at the current rental rate, Tristan will be able to pay off the cost of his investment in just over four and a half years. He can then start using his granny flat to generate disposable income.

Keep in mind that this is just one scenario and there may be a range of other factors to consider. For example if you have to borrow money to fund the addition of a granny flat to your property, it may take longer for your investment to generate positive cash flow.

What are the tax implications of a granny flat investment property?

Investing in a granny flatIf you rent out a granny flat to generate extra income, remember that you will need to pay tax on the rental income you receive. The amount of tax payable will depend on your income tax bracket and marginal tax rate.

The tax deductions you are eligible to claim will depend on whether your granny flat investment is positively or negatively geared. If the rental income generated by the granny flat is not enough to cover the cost of maintaining it (with loan interest payments and other ongoing expenses), then your property will be negatively geared and you can claim your loan interest payments and ongoing expenses as tax deductions. However, owners of properties that aren’t negatively geared will only be able to claim their ongoing maintenance expenses as tax deductions.

You will also be able to claim the depreciation in value of your granny flat investment as a tax deduction each year. Just be aware that a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) liability usually applies to the portion of your property that you rent out.

How to minimise your CGT liability

Will a granny flat add value to my property?

If you’re wondering whether a granny flat will increase the value of your property, the answer is yes - but only if it complies with all local council regulations. If you think your house will be more practical and better to live in with an extra independent living space out the back, chances are a potential buyer will think the same thing.

In many cases a granny flat can add significantly to the value of your property. However, you’ll need to consider a range of variables when calculating your return on investment, including the size of the granny flat, its location and how much it costs to build.

Pros and cons of granny flat investment properties

Pros

  • Affordable investment. Buying or building a granny flat is usually cheaper than buying a standalone investment property, allowing you to start your investment portfolio without borrowing a huge amount of money.
  • Rental income. Depending on where you live and the size/features of the granny flat, your investment could provide several hundred dollars of rental income per week.
  • Adds value. A legally compliant granny flat will add to your property’s total value.
  • Handy addition. If your circumstances change and you need somewhere for a relative or friend to live, your granny flat can provide the necessary accommodation.

Cons

  • Tenants. You’ll need to be prepared to deal with tenants living on your property, which could potentially lead to some tense and awkward situations.
  • Cost. The cost of constructing a granny flat may be more than you expect and the expenses can quickly add up.

Tips for getting the most out of your granny flat investment

  • Do your research. Before adding a granny flat to your property, find out whether it will be a viable investment. Consider council regulations, the demand for rental properties in your area and the cost of installing a granny flat before you make your final decision.
  • Get quotes. Get accurate quotes from builders and contractors to form a clear picture of exactly how much the build will cost.
  • Loan options. If you need to borrow money to finance your granny flat investment, speak to a mortgage broker about your borrowing options. If you have sufficient equity in the property, you should be able to get the money you need by increasing or refinancing your existing loan.
  • Adding a granny flat to an investment property. While the most common approach is to add a granny flat to your own property, you can also build a granny flat on an investment property. If this is the case, you’ll need to consider the cost of maintaining both properties, the potential rental yield, and the effect that adding a granny flat might have on the demand for the main dwelling.
  • Be consistent. If you want the granny flat to add value to your property, make sure it matches your existing home and doesn’t look like an afterthought. It’s also essential to ensure that the granny flat doesn’t dominate the garden or take up too much outdoor space.

If you’ve got enough space and the right property, a granny flat can be a sound investment. Just be sure to research your options and learn more about the risks involved before deciding whether it’s the right investment opportunity for you.

Compare the latest investor mortgage rates

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years
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate (p.a.) Fees Monthly Payment

Nano Variable Home Loans P&IInvestment≥ 25% Deposit

Nano Variable Home Loans
2.29%
2.29%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$577.55
Refinancers only. Investors can refinance this no-fee variable rate loan. You will need a 25% deposit. Fast online approval.

Athena Variable Home Loan P&IInvestment≥ 40% Deposit

Athena Variable Home  Loan
2.39%
2.39%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$585.25
Investors with large 40% deposits or equity can get this low variable rate. A competitive option for investors looking to refinance.

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed P&IInvestment 1Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
2.14%
2.71%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$566.11
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.

St.George Fixed Rate Advantage Package P&IInvestment 2Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

St.George Fixed Rate Advantage Package
2.24%
3.89%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $395 p.a.
$573.72
$3,000 refinance cashback.
Investors can lock in a competitive rate for two years with this package loan. You will need at least a 20% deposit. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). Refinancers Only.

Westpac Fixed Option Home Loan Premier Advantage Package P&IInvestment 2Y Fixed≥ 5% Deposit

Westpac Fixed Option Home Loan Premier Advantage Package
2.29%
3.97%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $395 p.a.
$577.55
$3,000 refinance cashback
A competitive fixed rate loan for investors that allows you to make up to $30,000 in extra repayments. Principal and interest loans only. $3,000 cashback for eligible refinancers. Apply by 31 August 2021. Terms and conditions apply.

Bank of Melbourne Advantage Package Fixed Home Loan P&IInvestment 2Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

Bank of Melbourne Advantage Package Fixed Home Loan
2.24%
3.91%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $395 p.a.
$573.72
$3,000 refinance cashback.
Lock in a low rate for two years with this competitive investment package loan. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). Refinancers Only.

loans.com.au Smart Booster Discount Investor Variable Home Loan P&IInvestment≥ 20% Deposit

loans.com.au Smart Booster Discount Investor Variable Home Loan
1.99%
2.71%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$554.81
If you have an owner occupier loan with loans.com.au you can also get this very low rate variable mortgage for your investment property. Principal and interest repayments. Add an offset account for an additional 0.10% on your interest rate. Get your loan processed fast and settle within 30 days.

Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan P&IInvestment 3Y Fixed≥ 10% Deposit

Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan
2.34%
2.36%
  • App: $250
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$581.39
A competitive 3 year investor rate with principal and interest repayments. Optional offset account with a $10 monthly fee. Not available for construction purposes.

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset IOInvestment≥ 40% Deposit

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.59%
2.42%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$600.83
This competitive variable rate loan is for investors who want interest-only repayments. You will need a 40% deposit.

HSBC Home Value Loan P&IInvestment≥ 30% Deposit

HSBC Home Value Loan
2.44%
2.45%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$589.12
$3,288 refinance cashback offer
This variable rate loan is available for property investors with 30% deposits. This loan has very few fees. Eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $3,288 cashback. Terms and conditions apply.

UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate P&IInvestment≥ 20% Deposit

UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate
2.74%
2.74%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$612.67
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.

Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed P&IInvestment 3Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed
2.28%
3.15%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$576.78
$3,000 refinance cash bonus
Borrowers with 20% deposits can lock in a low fixed rate loan for three years. Eligible new borrowers can get the annual package fee reimbursed for the life of the loan. $3,000 refinance cash bonus for eligible borrowers. Other terms, conditions and eligibility criteria apply.

Nano Variable Home Loans IOInvestment≥ 25% Deposit

Nano Variable Home Loans
2.59%
2.40%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$600.83
Refinancers only. This variable investment loan has interest-only repayments and is for refinancers only. Fast online approval. Requires a 25% deposit.

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset P&IInvestment≥ 20% Deposit

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.39%
2.41%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$585.25
This investment loan keeps fees low, has a sharp interest rate and comes with a 100% offset account. This loan is not available for construction.

Athena Variable Home Loan P&IInvestment≥ 20% Deposit

Athena Variable Home  Loan
2.59%
2.48%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$600.83
A competitive investor variable rate that falls as you build equity.

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed IOInvestment 3Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
2.24%
2.64%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$573.72
Pay no ongoing fees on this investment loan fixed for 3 years.

Well Home Loans Balanced Variable P&IInvestment≥ 20% Deposit

Well Home Loans Balanced Variable
2.32%
2.35%
  • App: $250
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$579.86
If you're an investor with a 20% deposit saved you can get this low rate mortgage. Not available for construction.

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed P&IInvestment 5Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
2.49%
2.67%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$593.01
Lock in a 5 year fixed rate on your investment loan and pay no ongoing fees.

Athena Variable Home Loan P&IInvestment≥ 30% Deposit

Athena Variable Home  Loan
2.49%
2.43%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$593.01
Athena's refinance offer for investors and owner occupiers.

UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate IOInvestment≥ 20% Deposit

UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate
2.60%
2.65%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$601.61
Pay interest only repayments with this special offer for investors.

IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan P&IInvestment 3Y Fixed≥ 10% Deposit

IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan
2.35%
3.33%
  • App: $449
  • Ongoing: $6 per month
$582.16
NSW and ACT customers only. A 3 years fixed rate investor which allows extra repayments to be made.

Well Home Loans Balanced Variable P&IInvestment≥ 10% Deposit

Well Home Loans Balanced Variable
2.87%
2.90%
  • App: $250
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$623.03
Competitive variable investor mortgage to fund your property portfolio. You can add a 100% offset account for just $10 a month.Not available for construction purposes.

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed IOInvestment 1Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
2.29%
2.72%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$577.55
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.

Athena Variable Home Loan IOInvestment≥ 30% Deposit

Athena Variable Home  Loan
2.69%
2.52%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$608.71
Investors with 30% deposits can get this fee-free variable rate loan. This loan has interest-only repayments.

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset IOInvestment≥ 20% Deposit

homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.69%
2.52%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
$608.71
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fee. This loan is not available for construction.
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