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Registration, inspections and standards

All registrable boarding houses are required to be registered by their proprietors on the Boarding Houses Register maintained by NSW Fair Trading (Boarding Houses Act 2012 (NSW) (the BH Act), section 9).

This is new.

Prior to the BH Act, there was no central register of boarding houses in New South Wales.

Registering premises is a separate process from getting premises approved for use as a boarding house by the local council. This means being registered does not necessarily mean that the boarding house is operating lawfully in all respects. It is unlikely, however, that many proprietors of unlawful boarding houses will register (and thereby draw the attention of the local council to their unlawful activities).

Tip.

Before you move into a boarding house, search for it on the Boarding Houses Register. If it’s not registered, that’s a sign that it may be operating unlawfully.

You can also use the Boarding Houses Register to find out the name of the proprietor of a boarding house.

The register is online on the Fair Trading website.

After a registrable boarding house is registered, the local council is required, in most cases, to conduct an inspection of the premises (section 16). The council must give notice of the inspection to the proprietor (it need not notify residents), and can access any part of the premises (section 17(1)).

The purpose of the inspection is to check for compliance with building and fire safety regulations, and the standards for places of shared accommodation (section 16).

The standards for places of shared accommodation, set out at Part 2 of Schedule 2 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005, apply to all registrable boarding houses and allow the local council to set a maximum number of residents and enforce basic standards of cleanliness and amenity.

This is changed.

Previously, the standards for places of shared accommodation applied to certain boarding houses only (that is, Class 3 buildings under the Building Code of Australia).

If the council finds a problem, it can make an order under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (the EPA Act) or the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW). For example, the council may order the proprietor or owner to:

  • Cease using the premises as a boarding house, if consent for that use has not been obtained (EPA Act, section 121B, order 1);
  • Make repairs or structural alterations, if the building is dangerous or dilapidated (EPA Act, section 121B, order 4);
  • Do things, or refrain from doing things, to ensure fire safety (EPA Act, section 121B, order 6); or
  • Take action to comply with the standards for places of shared accommodation (Local Government Act 1993, section 124, order 5).