A GROWING number of Ipswich home owners are turning their backyards into goldmines by filling their empty lawn space with granny flats, renting them out and pocketing the cash.
In the past, legislation required that only a dependant relative could live in a granny flat.
But thanks to reforms by the Ipswich City Council, home owners can now use the second dwelling as a rental for an unrelated party.
Ipswich is now the only council in Queensland that has relaxed the planning scheme laws to allow auxiliary dwellings for investment purposes.
And independent real estate agent Sonia Woolley said more and more home owners were taking full advantage of it.
Ms Woolley, who is also the co-director of Ipswich Granny Flats, said it was a golden opportunity for investors to double - or even triple - their rent return.
As an example, Ms Woolley said she was currently helping a client split his 1550sq m property, to build three separate dwellings on his land.
"As an investor he's got one house that earns him 4% rent return, I'm going to build him three new ones to get him 14% rent return," she said.
"When I heard the laws changed about 18 months ago, I couldn't believe so few people had taken advantage of it.
"I now get several phone calls a week from people interested about these granny flat developments."
The change in legislation has also benefited people like Cath Hannard and Jim Sax, not investors, but long-time friends who wanted to live together - just not in the same house.
"I've lived on my own for 28 years and I like it that way," Mrs Hannard, 79, said. "With this arrangement, Jim and I can look after each other, but have our own independence."
Before the reforms, the housing option would not have been available to the pair since they are not related.
"Granny flats dwelling cannot exceed 65sq m of living space, but that still allows for things like car accommodation and outdoor entertainment areas to be built on top of that," Ms Woolley said.
She said it was great to see people make they most out of their backyard areas and expected the trend would catch on throughout the state. For more information visit ipswichgrannyflats.com.au.