Review of the Boarding Houses Act

Submission cover sheet

  • Name of organisation or individual making this submission

    Najava Pty Ltd

  • Authorised delegate/contact person

    Angus Macintosh

  • Position


  • Organisation

Questions on possible options

  1. Are the objects of the Boarding Houses Act 2012 still valid? Why or why not?

  2. Are there any types of premises which should be included in or excluded from the Act?

    • General boarding houses and assisted boarding houses should not be included in the same act • Both types of accommodation share very few similarities • General boarding houses fill an accommodation gap that provide accommodation to residents that do not want or are unable to obtain a standard residential tenancy due to choice, financial situation or lack of references etc • General boarding houses provide residents with a flexible ‘easy in, easy out’ style of accommodation that allows residents to enter into accommodation with very little up front requirements and allows them the flexibility of being able leave with very little notice which is not possible under a residential tenancy • Assisted boarding houses are a completely different service that allow for care to be given to residents and are more similar to a nursing home as opposed to a traditional boarding house

  3. Should the exclusion that currently applies to specialist disability accommodation for the purposes of the NDIS be extended to other NDIS service types, such as where residents are in receipt of SIL packages?

  4. What are the benefits of the two tier system in NSW? How does it compare with systems in other jurisdictions? Please provide comments.

  5. Should anything be changed in, or added to, the list of information provided to the Commissioner?

  6. Is the information on the public Register sufficient? Why or why not?

  7. What other information could be added to, or removed from, the public Register?

  8. Should the Commissioner have the power to remove the details of a boarding house from the public Register under prescribed circumstances, if it has ceased to be used as a boarding house?

  9. How could we improve the local regulation of boarding houses?

    • Councils do a reasonable job of enforcing compliance in boarding houses • Unregulated share housing, student accommodation and illegal boarding etc are currently operating with little to no regulation • These unregulated accommodation types need to be regulated properly

  10. Should councils be required to let NSW Fair Trading know of enforcement action against boarding houses, so that it can be recorded in the Register?

  11. Are there any provisions of the Standard Occupancy Agreement which should be changed, or are any additional provisions required?

    • At present, there are suggestions included in the standard occupancy agreement • It is important that these stay as suggestions as every boarding house is different and will have their own house rules • What may apply to a one style of boarding house may not apply to another • Boarding house operators are not in the business of vacating residents unfairly or for no reason. The aim of the business is to keep the rooms full • A boarding house operator or manager needs to keep balance of the house, as one disruptive resident can upset the balance of the house resulting in disturbance and other tenants in the house moving out • As a result, be boarding house managers/operators need flexibility to manage a peaceful house • Tenancy agreements should not be over-regulated as this is likely to over-complicate a simple tenancy that currently works

  12. Do you have any comments on the use of either the Standard Occupancy Agreement, or other occupancy agreements?

  13. How aware are you of the occupancy principles?

  14. Should the occupancy principles be handed separately to each resident when they enter a boarding house or is it enough to include them in the Occupancy Agreement?

  15. Should the occupancy principles be clearly displayed on a notice board in a common area in the boarding house?

  16. Are the occupancy principles useful and appropriate?

    • Yes the occupancy principles are useful for ongoing day to day management • ‘easy in, easy out’, the more complicated the tenancy becomes, the harder it will be for boarding house residents and operators • Boarding houses fill an important gap in the market • Making a boarding house tenancy more like a residential tenancy is unlikely to benefit boarding house residents and/or operators

  17. Are the occupancy principles being complied with? If not, why not?

  18. Should any other information be provided to a resident when they move into a boarding house? For example, a fact sheet with information about access to outside services, such as dental, Housing NSW, casework psychologists.

    • Not necessary for general boarding houses • It may be appropriate for assisted boarding houses • Again, they are a completely different styles of accommodation and should not be included in the same legislation

  19. Should any information be provided to operators of boarding houses, for example, a fact sheet outlining their responsibilities?

  20. Are the occupancy principle provisions for termination and notice working or are there any changes which should be made?

    • The current principle provisions are working at present • Being a suggestion allows some flexibility and discretion • The boarding house operator/manager should have reasonable flexibility as not every boarding house is the same • At present, boarding houses can be managed in a way that is easy to enter and easy to exit • If the industry is over regulated with stringent principle provisions, the barriers for residents entering and exiting boarding houses are likely to make it much more difficult for residents • Over-regulation is likely to make boarding houses unfeasible and leave residents without accommodation

  21. Do the suggested notice periods in the Standard Occupancy Agreement constitute “reasonable notice” for terminating an agreement by either a proprietor or a resident? If not, why not?

  22. Should a proprietor be required to provide a reason for terminating an agreement? Why or why not?

  23. Do the current provisions provide sufficient security for residents of boarding houses?

    • Yes • Boarding houses are not in the business of evicting tenants for no reason, they are in the business of keeping rooms occupied • From experience, many of our tenants are long term and have been in the same buildings for many years • If both tenant and boarding house operator/manager fulfill their obligations, there is absolute security for residents

  24. How aware are you of the dispute resolution mechanisms available for house residents and proprietors?

  25. How effective and appropriate are the current dispute resolution processes?

  26. Do you have any other suggestions to encourage the early resolution of boarding house disputes and to reduce the number of boarding house disputes?

  27. Is the definition of a “person with additional needs” clear? If not, why not?

  28. Does the definition need to be more detailed?

  29. Should it make reference to the Disability Support Pension as an indicator that the person may have “additional needs”?

  30. Should it be linked to, or make reference to, NDIS eligibility where those NDIS funded supports are to address a disability support need which is permanent, or likely to be permanent (i.e. not a one-off package for equipment or for where the support is time limited and is not intended to be permanent)?

  31. Should it be made identical to the definition in Section 24 of the National Disability Insurance Act 2013 (with a provision to also include people with an age related disability as people aged 65 years and over are not eligible for the NDIS)?

  32. Should the present two-tiered system of “assisted” and “general” boarding houses remain unchanged, and only “assisted boarding houses”, as presently defined, be allowed to accommodate a person with “additional needs” under the legislation? Why or why not?

    • Assisted and general boarding houses are completely different and should not be in the same act. • General boarding houses should not be able to accommodate a person with “additional needs” as they do not belong in a general boarding house • General boarding houses do not provide adequate provisions for a person with “additional needs” • General boarding houses are not set up to accommodate a person with “additional needs” and it would be extremely onerous and unfeasible to expect a general boarding house to retrospectively comply with the assisted boarding house regulations

  33. If you think that some general boarding houses should be allowed to accommodate some people with “additional needs” provided certain safeguards are met, what should these standards and safeguards entail?

  34. Should the general boarding house be allowed to accommodate a person with “additional needs” but only if the person has a “package” of supports such as under the NDIS, or provided by NSW Health?

    • No, general boarding houses are completely different from assisted boarding houses. These two types need to be completely separated.

  35. If the general boarding house is allowed to accommodate people with “additional needs”, should a condition of that be that they are subject to certain requirements?

  36. What other safeguards, if any, would be needed, and why?

  37. What is the impact of specifying that only one person can be the applicant to be the licensee?

  38. Should corporations and companies be excluded, given that a company can be purchased and sold, in order to prevent a buyer of a company which holds a licence of an assisted boarding house circumvent the requirement to apply for a licence?

  39. Is 28 days adequate time for a licensee to give notice of closure and to allow for alternative accommodation for the residents to be secured?

  40. When a person is asked to answer questions, should the warning be simplified to state that the person must be advised that: (a) they have the right not to answer the question or produce documents only if they believe such answers or documents will be self-incriminating; and (b) if they do choose to say anything, anything they do say may be noted; and (c) if they say anything which is self-incriminating, it may be used against them in future legal or administrative proceedings?

  41. Is the current requirement that one person be specified as an “authorised service provider” adequate? Should the definition of “authorised service provider” be broadened to include any employees of a named organisation providing services to an assisted boarding house?

  42. Is the maximum number of 30 residents appropriate? Why or why not?

  43. Are the current arrangements adequate in meeting privacy needs of residents?

  44. Where two residents have decided to share a bedroom, should it be enforced that an additional room not less than 7.5 square metres be set aside for the exclusive use of those two residents only?

  45. Is the current requirement of 11 square metres adequate for a room that two residents choose to share?

  46. Should there be a minimum size for the private or quiet room? If yes, what should this be?

  47. Should a minimum size for a communal living space be specified? Why or why not? If yes, should this be based on the number of residents accommodated e.g. a specified number of square metres per resident?

  48. Are the current provisions of the Act in relation to young persons adequate? Why or why not?

  49. Is the current purpose of the Screening Tool still valid?

  50. If an assisted boarding house resident, actual or proposed, has a package of supports which meets their needs, should he or she be considered eligible to live in an assisted boarding house regardless of their level of need? (For instance, if a person needed daily personal care but he or she had an NDIS package where he or she could purchase those supports, could this be delivered in an assisted boarding house?)

  51. Are the current provisions of the Act adequate in relation to abuse and neglect?

  52. Should there be a clause in the Regulation which states that in a boarding house which is authorised to accommodate a person with additional needs, a receipt for any money received from, or on behalf of that person, must be issued to the person and a copy of all such receipts kept? This includes details of the purpose of the receipt of money or payment.

  53. Should there be a clause in the Regulation which specifically covers financial exploitation? If yes, given many residents of assisted boarding houses have difficulty managing their finances, how would “exploitation” be defined and differentiated from “assistance”?

  54. If yes, should the clause also cover the management and delivery of the resident’s NDIS Plan?

  55. Are the current provisions of the Act in relation to record keeping adequate?

  56. Should the records required to be kept by an assisted boarding house, and which are therefore available for inspection by a Department of Communities and Justice boarding house enforcement officer, be expanded to include: a) Occupancy Agreements? b) NDIS Plans and NDIS Service Agreements? c) Payments to a service provider under the NDIS Plan? d) Any other record or document?

At our discretion we may remove parts of submissions because of length, content, appropriateness or confidentiality (privacy) reasons.