Boarding house residents gain legal protection

Boarding house residents will have occupancy rights for the first time, under laws passed by the NSW Parliament this week.

Boarding houses will also have to be registered under the new legislation.

The NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, has described the Boarding Houses Bill 2012 (NSW) as an historic reform aimed at protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

He said the new law upholds the rights of boarding house residents, ‘whether they are people with disability, people with mental illness, students, or those on low incomes.’

provisions in the legislation directly address concerns raised by the Homeless
Persons’ Legal Service
(HPLS) and the Tenants’ Union.

submissions to a draft version of the Bill, HPLS and the Tenants’ Union said boarding
house residents should not be over-charged for electricity and water.

also recommended former residents, as well as current residents, be entitled to
bring action in the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

The NSW Boarding Houses Register will be in place by January 2013. Operators will also face an increase in penalties if they fail to register, and there will be increased powers of entry for officials to inspect boarding houses.

‘This Bill gets the balance right in terms of maintaining the viability of the boarding house industry, while ensuring safeguards are in place for residents so that people live in clean and well run accommodation,’ Mr Constance said.

‘Unfortunately, some boarding house residents have been subjected to abuse and neglect, highlighted in three reports from the Ombudsman.’

‘It’s time we corrected the injustices within the industry and that’s exactly what this Bill aims to do.’

Read the PIAC submission, Fixing a bleak house.

Related story: Boarding house reforms urgently needed (includes link to Ombudsman’s report).

Photo: Flickr

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