Tiny House Local Law change in Mount Alexander Shire, VIC
History of successful tiny house movement in this Shire
Tiny House Advocacy Success 2023: Local Law Change in Mount Alexander Shire, Central VIC.
Our local council here in Castlemaine, VIC has recently approved a progressive law change for tiny house dwellers, when Local Law 13 was amended on Tuesday 20th June 2023. The new laws allow people to live in a tiny house on wheels on private property (so long as there is an existing dwelling on the property) without a permit or a time limit.
This is extremely good news for people seeking a low cost housing option that provides a level of security, as tiny house dwellers can now stay in one location indefinitely and settle into the community, without the threat of being ‘moved on’ by council.
Laws have come a long way since we started this business back in 2015, when tiny houses could not offer a true sense of security to their dwellers, because Victorian local laws almost always limited tiny house living to a six-week annual stay.
This local law change represents the efforts from thousands of community members lobbying for change twice in the last three years. We tried to improve the local laws in 2020, with limited success. More on that story below.
Thankfully the local council members re-tabled the local law for review in 2023 in response to the ongoing housing crisis here in Mount Alexander Shire. With a progressive permit-free, time-limit-free local law proposed, the council asked for public comment. They received over 1,500 submissions through the ‘Have Your Say’ community consultation process that the council initiated. To read a break down of the feedback received, see the council Agenda Minutes here on Pages 20-26.
There are lots of community members who played an active role in informing the council on how to change their laws to make them more progressive and better serve the needs of our community. Special thanks goes to Carolyn Neilson, the Co-Ordinator of the MyHome Network here in Central VIC for her tireless and articulate advocacy for improving housing options in the local area.
ABC article on Mount Alexander Shire Tiny House Local Laws
2020 UPDATE on OUTCOMES:
Submissions to council ended on the 31st July 2020.
View the council meeting where Fred and others addressed council:
Call to action for changing tiny house laws:
We can do it. It’s free and it’s fast.
Right now we have an opportunity to change local laws to make tiny houses legal and meet a local housing need. Starting with one local government area in Victoria and rippling out to other municipalities, we can tell our local government what we want.
Every few years the local laws come up for review and right now the Mount Alexander Shire is taking submissions from the community on their proposed new Local Law Section 13 – Camping on Private Property (pages 14-15).
Unfortunately, the proposed new Local Law (Section 13 – Camping on Private Property (page 14-15)) changes are bad for tiny house living.
The proposed changes to local laws reduce the legal number of days that anyone can occupy a caravan or tiny house on wheels on private property from 6 weeks down to 3 weeks and creates 11 new and impossibly subjective criteria for council to consider when granting a permit to live in a tiny house on wheels for longer than 3 weeks. The current proposal is hostile to tiny house living!
We need your help to defeat this proposed change and replace Section 13 with an alternative Section 13 (A Suggested Alternative Local Law (Section 13 – Camping on Private Land): An innovative housing solution that meets the needs of the local community), but to do so, the council needs to hear from you and this is your chance.
We are currently in the public comment period, where you can still make a submission and weigh in on these changes; appealing to the elected council members to vote ‘no’ to these local law changes regarding living in a caravan / tiny house on wheels on private property in Mount Alexander Shire Council.
What’s the most effective approach to get this changed?
We need to pull at their heart strings. Just like you, councillors will likely be concerned about housing related issues, so speak from your heart about your housing needs and concerns for yourself, your children and grand children.
Please be explicit and personal about how the proposed Section 13 – Camping on Private Property (page 14-15) impacts your housing needs and aspirations.
Here are some possible ways that the proposed changes to Camping on Private Property Section 13, page 14-15) could effect you:
- Housing affordability – how a tiny house on wheels as camping on private property is a short term solution for you towards your long term housing goals… like saving for a down payment on a mortgage for a house on foundations;
- Flexible Housing Option – how a tiny house on wheels as camping on private property provides flexible housing options in the face of:
- Ageing in Place – a place for aging parents to live independently in a tiny house on wheels on their children’s property which has been shown to be the lowest cost care (AHURI:2018) for seniors with the highest level of social integration.
- A sensible expansion of low cost housing options is needed in this time of crisis. During this emerging health crisis we should be increasing the number of low-cost housing options, not decreasing them.
- Covid-19 related job loss & temporarily downsizing your housing related expenses.
- The necessity to self-isolate with Covid-19 (or some other future public health emergency), whilst being in close proximity to your social support, loved ones and neighbours.
- A landowner’s need to generate an alternative revenue source. To make provision for a landowner to make money from rental accommodation by having tiny house on wheels on their property.
- Your teenager’s human development needs. You’re a parent of an adolescent and if a backyard tiny house option were available you’d take it… today. Because you want them close, but they need to feel independent. Teenagers are experiencing a natural human development need which is currently not supported by the local law in its current or proposed form.
Grounded research has impact. Which is why we have referenced the peak bodies in housing research in our submission please feel free to cut and paste from Fred’s submission, linked below.
You’ll notice that you can’t cut and paste from this webpage. What you can do is download Fred’s submission and cut and paste from there.
DOWNLOAD Fred’s Tiny Houses’ Revised Submission (Version 2.5) (RE: Section 13 – Camping on Private Property):
Our submission points out that living in a caravan or tiny house on wheels on private property is the fastest, cheapest for the council, most sensible way of allowing people to fair an economic/housing crisis in dignity and with independence within their chosen community. This submission cites authoritative source that establish what our pre-Covid housing needs were as a community. Specifically this submission cites authoritative sources that shows that it takes much longer than 3 weeks to transition into a more conventional housing situation after a crisis. We suggest a more realistic renewable 2 year time frame for permits to live in a caravan / tiny house on wheels.
Importantly, it is backed up with references to housing research conducted by peak housing bodies in Victoria Australia Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and Victorian Public Tenants Association.
What you can do:
Make you own submission. It takes 3 minutes. Submissions close at 5pm on Friday July 31st 2020.
- COPY any part of Fred’s Tiny Houses submission and paste into an email (or create your own submission from scratch).
- EMAIL that submission to firstname.lastname@example.org (and CC: email@example.com)
- SUBJECT heading: Local Law Review
- SHARE your support by circulating the video above and links to this page.
- CHECK your own local laws in your area and see when they are up for review. Use this submission as a starting point for lobbying your own local council to making living in tiny houses legal.
Question: “But I’m not in Mount Alexander Shire. Will my submission count?”
Answer: Yes, but you need to say how it effects you, like:
- You enjoy visiting our area and have a particular interest in being able to stay in independent lodgings where you get to meet locals and enjoy the area.
- That you hope to move to the area and benefit from the forward thinking laws.
- That because there’s already a tiny house industry in the area you look to Mount Alexander Shire to provide leadership on this issue that is keeping with it’s reputation as one of the most creative, progressive, ecologically active municipalities in Victoria.
Question: Why does this matter so much?
Answer: Creates a positive Ripple Effect. Councils often copy other councils laws to create their own! So if there’s one super hostile law passed, they can copy and paste from that and bring it into your home town. And if there’s a progressive, tiny-house-friendly option, they can copy and paste from that to create your new local laws.
Help us get the good ripples happening, buy spending the next few minutes supporting the cause!
The more tiny-house-friendly options there are formally voted in by local councils around Victoria, the easier it is for your council members to feel safe in applying those local laws to their area.
Will you stand with us and prevent this hostile Section 13 of the proposed local law in Mount Alexander Shire Council from coming into use?
Compose your email to the Shire now with the subject line: “Local Law Review”.
(If you want to copy us in on your submission at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please share this page on social media. We have only a short time to act.
Please find “Section 13 – Camping on Private Property” (Draft, 2020) shown below. Click on the Shire logo to be taken to the whole document on the Shire’s website.
Please find the current law: “Section 7 – Camping on Council Land, Public Land and Private Land” (2010) shown below.
Please find below the current 4 year Council Plan (2017-21) and how tiny houses can better fulfil the council’s own stated strategic objectives and strategies:
A more progressive, innovative and ecologically sound avenue to low income housing is tiny houses:
Compose your email to the Shire now with the subject line: “Local Law Review”.
(If you want to copy us in on your submission at: email@example.com)
A Suggested Alternative Local Law Version 2.5 (Section 13 – Camping on Private Property): An innovative housing solution that meets the needs of the local community.
After consulting with others since making our submission we are revising our original suggested alternative Local Law to be version 2.5.
The the intention of this Version 2.5 is to:
- Maintain the current 6 week period for camping in a caravan / tiny house on wheels on you own land, even when there is no dwelling on your property.
- Allows you to self-fund your own tiny house on wheels (caravan) and live in it on your own land if there is dwelling on the property already.
- Assures that a high community standard for safety, amenity and not creating a nuisance are maintained.
- Allows you to self-fund your own tiny house on wheels and rent it out to others, because we need a way for land owners and entrepreneurs to create more low cost rental housing for people on low income.
Did you know Yarra Ranges Shire eliminated the permit altogether! This might be a bridge too far for us, but wanted you to know.
See below the Yarra Ranges Local Law Review Community Impact Statement regarding Camping on Private Property.
Camping on Private Property without a permit
Both community and stakeholder feedback was considered in the assessment of this provision. Council have decided to remove the need for a permit and introduce a “nuisance” provision to support a neighbour who may be impacted by this activity. (Yarra Ranges: 2020)
“Mount Alexander Shire Council: Council Plan 2017-2021”; https://www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/Files/Council_Plan/Council_Plan_2017_-_2021.pdf, (Mount Alexander Shire Council: 2017).
“Mount Alexander Shire Council: General Local Law 2010 (CURRENT); https://www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/files/Local_Laws/Local_Laws_3_-_Adopted_23_11_2010.pdf, (Mount Alexander Shire Council: 2010).
“Mount Alexander Shire Council: General Local Law 2020 (DRAFT); ” ”https://www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/files/Local_Laws/Draft_General_Local_Law_2020.pdf, (Mount Alexander Shire Council: 2020).
“What’s Needed to make Ageing in Place Work for Older Australians”, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/policy/ahuri-briefs/whats-needed-to-make-ageing-in-place-work-for-older-australians, (AHURI: 2019).
“Covid-19 Mortgage Stress Creating Uncertain Housing Futures” https://www.ahuri.edu.au/policy/ahuri-briefs/covid-19-mortgage-stress-creating-uncertain-housing-futures, (AHURI: 2020).
“100,000 Waiting for a Home in 2020” https://vpta.org.au/100000-waiting-for-a-home-in-2020/, (VPTA: 2019)
“Supporting Older Lower Income Tenants in the Private Rental Sector”; https://www.ahuri.edu.au/policy/policy-analysis/supporting-older-lower-income-tenants-in-the-private-rental-sector, (AHURI: 2018).
“Local Laws Review Community Impact Statement: Yarra Ranges Council” https://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Council/Engage-Yarra-Ranges/Local-law-review/Local-Law-Review-Community-Impact-Statement#section-17 (Yarra Ranges Council: 2020)