I’m a military veteran who built my small house from the ground up with my entire savings – now the officials want to tear it down

A veteran who had worked hard to build his tiny home was told by officials that it would have to be torn down.

A man who invested his entire savings into building the tiny house of his dreams may be forced to tear it down.

Byron Shire City Council currently has a demolition order against a military veteran


Byron Shire City Council currently has a demolition order against a military veteranPhoto credit: Getty
Matt Bruce used his life's savings to build a small house that may now have to be demolished


Matt Bruce used his life’s savings to build a small house that may now have to be demolishedPhoto credit: Getty

Matt Bruce, 38, had been living on the edge of his friend’s 57-acre property in Mullumbimby, Australia, for over three years.

However, despite the peaceful living situation, Byron Shire City Council has called for the house to be demolished.

“The council recognizes that the attached… demolition building regulations… may result in any resident of the affected dwelling becoming homeless,” the letter, seen by the Guardian, said.

“Therefore the council is providing the contact details of the following agencies to assist in finding alternative accommodation.”

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The problems first arose 20 months earlier when they discovered that Bruce’s tiny house was considered permanent housing, violating their policies.

They gave the tiny homeowner a grace period to prove that the apartment could be moved.

If the home could be classified as a mobile home, it would fall within the permitted means of staying on a homeowner’s property.

However, flooding in the area made it much harder to prove the house could be moved and limited Bruce’s options.

Now, in order to keep his home, Bruce must move his small house next to the main property, an option that would cost the veteran thousands of dollars.

“We have 140 acres of land and you are forcing us to build houses next to each other,” says Bruce.

“That makes no sense.”

According to Byron Shire Council’s Director of Sustainable Environment and Economy, Shannon Burt told the publication that while they don’t like to comment on specific cases, they are looking at the current issue.

“This matter was initially raised as a complaint to the council regarding unauthorized land clearing and unauthorized occupation of the property. This matter is ongoing,” Burt said.

“Our staff, particularly those in the enforcement team, are extremely professional, approach a range of issues with compassion and have a strong desire to find common sense solutions and resolutions to often complex problems. This situation is no different.”

Byron Shire City Council Mayor Michael Lyon also expressed his sympathy for Bruce, but made it clear that the rules should not be bent.

“We cannot allow precedents for development in restricted areas, otherwise we will end up with open snow,” Lyon said.

Bruce claimed that fighting for his home against the council had a negative impact on his mental health and triggered his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s my life savings, it’s all I have,” he says.

“I’ve healed a lot, but that doesn’t mean I can withstand all life’s circumstances.”

If Bruce can’t argue that his home can be moved at this point, he will lose everything.

Throughout the process, his landlord was fined a total of $9,000 by the city council for “development without consent.”

“The council basically came along, took a look at it and concluded it was permanent housing,” he says.

“So [they say] It’s like a permanent house, it’s not a tiny house.

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“It’s a moveable apartment,” says Bruce. “It’s the size of a trailer.”

The US Sun has contacted the Mayor and Byron Shire Council for comment.


PaulLeBlanc is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. PaulLeBlanc joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: paulleblanc@dailynationtoday.com.

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