Boarding Houses – continuing to be in the news (for all the wrong reasons)

Shelter NSW was pleased to make comment on the news story: Waverly Council has approved a controversial boarding house proposal having rejected it last year (paywalled). CEO John Engeler warned that the approval wouldn’t necessarily lead to an increase in Bondi’s stock of affordable housing as the development application had been submitted before changes to the state government’s boarding house rules. Mr Engeler said such developments covered by the older regulations risked “charging excessive fees” without guaranteeing the amenities and building were of a good standard. Beyond his reminder that the private housing market continues to fail lower-income people, John also used the article to call on the NSW Government to ensure that Councils charged with the regulation of boarding houses are properly funded and equipped.

The Newtown boarding house was the scene of a fire that left three people dead in March. 
Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP, via the Guardian

One such council is Inner West Council, currently pursuing the owner of a Newtown boarding house recently destroyed by fire and killing three people. According to this article in the Guardian, the property is now for sale. Shelter NSW CEO John Engeler, noted in the article, that it would be good to see a portion of the sale of the property go to the residents who survived the fire and were displaced. “It demonstrates good faith and demonstrates what’s gone on here – it’s a bigger issue than a pure legal narrow framework”. Beyond the issue of this particular building, John reminded readers of the bigger issues at stake, “…there’s potentially 12 more people added to the [housing] waiting list,” he said. “Those old-style boarding houses are at best option B. We need new [homes], and people who live there deserve better.”

For more information about Shelter’s position on the new boarding house arrangements please refer to this Shelter NSW 2021 news article