Garden Flats

This innovative project aims to create a new pipe-line of affordable rental housing for single people who are homeless

The reason for Garden Flats

Heading Home is a cross-sector collaboration driven by Wentworth to end homelessness in the region. Ending homelessness means finding homes and we can no longer look to social housing to provide the solution to homelessness. The wait times are 10+ years and government is not increasing its property portfolio. Each community has to look within its own resources to solve this problem.

The Heading Home Project Group recognised that the private sector holds most of the land and housing in the region. Garden Flats or Secondary Dwellings in the backyard of residential homes are a way for homeowners to be part of the solution to homelessness – while also increasing their property value and potentially generating extra income.

In the Blue Mountains Nepean region, we have an under-supply of small, affordable rental housing. There are many people in our communities who need a garden flat such as older women, older men, students, single people and even couples. There is an urgent need to build capacity in the lower end of the private rental market by growing low cost rental accommodation, predominantly for single people. 

What is a Garden Flat

The Garden Flat product has been developed specifically to target the lack of affordable rental housing for single people on Jobseeker. Recent innovation in the design of small housing has made possible a quality product of a size that is suitable for single people, affordable to very low-income earners and provides a reasonable return for homeowners.

At around 20-35 m2, Garden flats are small secondary dwellings designed to be built at low cost in backyards. They can cost as little as $45,000-$50,000 plus site and approval costs and be built in NSW under the Affordable Housing SEPP.

As well as increasing property value, this is a unique and clever way to help people stay in their communities and prevent homelessness. It taps into the spirit of mutual benefit that’s at the heart of great communities and can be win-win for both landowner and tenant.

Garden Flat EXPO

We held an EXPO on in the Blue Mountains in late 2018 with the aim to test community interest in Garden Flats. The EXPO provided interested homeowners with a range of information to stimulate the building and development of small garden flats. Landlords and homeowners were introduced to a number of packages for them to rent their flats to those exiting or at risk of homelessness. The EXPO was a great success with over 500 people attending on the day and many expressing an interest in Garden Flats.

Wentworth has two offers for homeowners interested in developing a Garden flat and leasing it with us.

  • Incentive packages

Wentworth will offer a limited number of incentive packages for homeowners who want to go the extra step and offer their garden flat to someone facing homelessness.
We will nominate a tenant to go into the property, with the owners’ consent, and provide tenancy management for free, support the tenant and cover vacancies over a 2 to 3 year period.

The investor is guaranteed a $150 per week, $7,800 annual rental return from Wentworth.

  • Pilot Wentworth Build model

Under this model, Wentworth finances and builds the Garden Flat and manages the tenancy until the cost of the build is paid off. The modelling indicates that this period would likely be from 5 years upward, depending on which variables are factored into the model. Wentworth recoups initial costs of the build over this period through rental income.

Wentworth pays for the construction costs including costs associated with the planning approval process. We also manage the DA process and pay the associated costs which are factored into the overall cost of the build. This directly takes the stress off the owner in navigating the planning system and project managing the build.

A contract signed with the property owner allows Wentworth to control the rental income of the property for a period of time. At the end of that period, the debt is paid in full and the property owner can use the Garden Flat as they wish. The contract also specifies what would happen if the owner sells their house before the contracted period, or if they decide that they want to take full control of the Garden Flat before the end of the contracted period with Wentworth.

We have one pilot project already built and tenanted in Penrith and have funding for one more Garden Flat.

If you are a homeowner in the Nepean Blue Mountains region and interested to find out more, please contact Eva Gerencer, Manager, Communications & Projects on: