Homes may be ‘il­le­gal’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

UNIT own­ers are buy­ing prop­er­ties in the Dou­glas re­gion un­aware there could be re­stric­tions on per­ma­nent oc­cu­pancy un­der coun­cil laws.

A prop­erty’s pur­pose is de­cided by de­vel­op­ment and plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions and per­ma­nent and long-term oc­cu­pancy is il­le­gal if they were built as hol­i­day apart­ments.

Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil’s man­ager of de­vel­op­ment as­sess­ment Kelly Reas­ton said there are no re­stric­tions un­der the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion if the prop­er­ties are multi-unit or per­ma­nent dwellings.

“If it’s ap­proved for hol­i­day accommodation or a mo­tel, then you’re only al­lowed to re­side in them short-term,” she said.

“Short-term is not de­fined the plan­ning scheme or Body Cor­po­rate Man­age­ment Act but in some of the by-laws im­posed by the body cor­po­rate it’s about a 90-day pe­riod.

“There are penal­ties un­der the town plan­ning laws in breach of de­vel­op­ment per­mits but we’ve taken a try­ing-to-as­sist ap­proach and ex­plain uses to see if it’s pos­si­ble to make a change or make other ar­range­ments.”

The coun­cil rec­om­mends giv­ing their plan­ning depart­ment a call to find out more about re­stric­tions on prop­er­ties be­fore mov­ing into or buy­ing them.

“Get­ting a plan­ning certificate is costly so what we’ve of­fered is to pro­vide a let­ter of in­quiry, which is far cheaper and gives them a sum­mary,” Ms Reas­ton said.

“The best way when mak­ing pur­chases is to get a solic­i­tor’s let­ter of in­quiry or plan­ning certificate to get in­sur­ance.

“You can make an ap­pli­ca­tion to change it but that re­quires the con­sent of the body cor­po­rate and most of the is­sues are to do with car park­ing - hol­i­day apart­ments have a lower car park­ing rate com­pared to per­ma­nents.

“If you sat­isfy the car park­ing rate - per­ma­nent has to have two spa­ces - and get con­sent then the coun­cil can change it.”

But it is not sim­ple and even if the body cor­po­rate con­sents, chang­ing the use of an apart­ment could cost up to $10,000.

One lo­cal ex­pert said the best ad­vice is to look at al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions to ob­tain a bet­ter in­come through on-site man­age­ment and mar­ket­ing as chang­ing to per­ma­nent will de­press the over­all value of a prop­erty.

Con­tact the coun­cil’s plan­ning depart­ment on 4040 3044 for more in­for­ma­tion on plan­ning cer­tifi­cates or seek ad­vice from your body cor­po­rate or le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

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