New Boarders Legal Kit Spotlights Lack of Legal Protections

Clover Moore MP has launched a new legal information kit for community workers to help boarders and lodgers.

"Redfern Legal Centre's Tenants Advice Service has developed a plain language kit that explains the laws to those vulnerable people who don't have the protection of tenancy legislation," Ms Moore said.

"My Lord Mayoral Salary Trust funded the kit, and it shows a complex maze of legislation. There are no common standards and residents can be evicted with no notice. Expensive and lengthy Supreme Court action may be the only dispute mechanism.

Other tenants and landlords have a specific Act and Regulations that set out their rights and responsibilities, with cheap and quick access to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal. Boarders and lodgers don't have any of these protections.

"Apart from people living on the streets, boarding house residents are some of the most vulnerable people in our community. It is appropriate that we launch this kit during Homelessness Week," Ms Moore said.

Unlicensed boarding houses are a vital low cost housing option, but there has been a continuing decline in numbers since the 1970s, putting vulnerable people at greater risk of homelessness. Latest estimates show as few as 200 boarding houses in the City of Sydney.

"Queensland, Victoria and the ACT have tenancy regulation for boarding houses, and I have repeatedly called for NSW legislation.

"I have been calling for reform to keep boarding houses a viable housing option, with occupancy rights, services for more vulnerable residents, and Government programs to keep the sector financially viable.

Ms Moore intends to introduce a Private Members Bill to provide for "Occupancy Agreements" in NSW, based on the ACT model.

"The Government should fund support services for vulnerable residents based on the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre's boarding house project, which supports residents and operators, links people with health and welfare support services and runs information sessions.

"My 1993 legislation to reduce rates and land tax for boarding houses helped reduce operators' costs," Ms Moore said.

"This approach should be expanded to reduce operating costs, as recommended by the 2007 Department of Housing Boarding House Accommodation Study.

"An interdepartmental committee on the Reform of the Shared Private Residential Services Sector was set up in May 2008, but we are yet to see action," Ms Moore said.

"Reform is long overdue for this small but vital housing sector," Ms Moore concluded.

Launch Details:

Thursday 4 August 10am-10.30am
Parkes Room, NSW Parliament House

Available for comment:

  • Redfern Tenants Advice & Advocacy Service,
  • Newtown Neighbourhood Centre Boarding House Project,
  • Boarders who can speak from personal experience.

For further information contact:

Clover Moore MP, phone 9360 3054

Jacqui Swinburne Redfern Tenants Service, phone 0425 203 468

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