Tenants’ Union welcomes boarding house reform proposal
Media release, 10 May 2012
The Tenants’ Union of NSW (TU) has welcomed an announcement by the NSW Ministers for Disability Services and Fair Trading, of a proposal to reform the boarding house sector in New South Wales.
‘As an organisation working in support of vulnerable renters, we can measure the time spent on this issue in decades. An announcement such as we’ve had from the Ministers today can only be regarded as monumental,’ said Ned Cutcher, Policy Officer with the TU.
‘Organisations such as the TU have lobbied successive governments on the need for boarding house reform since 1976. Our housing system has changed a lot since then – for instance, specific laws have been introduced to protect the rights of renters. But some, such as boarding house residents, are still not protected by those laws.’
Mr Cutcher said reform of the marginal rental sector is needed for a number of reasons. ‘In particular, legal relations between marginal renters and landlords are largely ungoverned and there is no fair mechanism for resolving disputes. Unsanitary and dangerous conditions are a fact of life in some boarding houses. Sensible and enforceable regulation is needed along with assistance to raise standards.’
Mr Cutcher said the TU were pleased to see proposals that would address these issues – the introduction of occupancy rights, standards, and a system of registration for boarding houses. ‘The TU’s own plan for reform of the marginal rental sector – released in March 2011 – includes similar proposals,’ he said.
‘We look forward to seeing the details of this package, and working with the O’Farrell Government on these important reforms,’ Mr Cutcher said. ‘Given this has been such a long time coming, it’s important that we get it right.’
‘For instance, occupancy rights must be given broad coverage, to ensure that no renter in New South Wales remains excluded from the protection of our state’s renting laws – be they resident of a boarding house, or some other form of marginal rental accommodation.’