NSW Government must fix deplorable boarding house situation
Wednesday 13 April 2022
Council is calling on the NSW Government to urgently review the management and regulation of boarding houses, in the wake of the Newtown boarding house fire tragedy.
Three residents lost their lives in the fire, a number of others sustained serious injuries and all the residents were left homeless.
“The March explosion and fire destroyed the boarding house,” said Councillor Chloe Smith.
“Since then, we have been working with Newtown Neighbourhood Centre to support the displaced residents and opening discussions on an appropriate way to pay tribute to the victims.
“And Mayor Byrne has already convened a taskforce, to be held in May.
“But what is really needed here is total reform of the way NSW boarding houses are operated.
“We also need the government to finally step up and admit that their lack of social and affordable housing policies have created entrenched problems,” Councillor Smith said.
While the NSW Government is responsible for legislation around the management of boarding houses, it delegates the oversight of the legislation to local government.
“I’ve proposed that Council’s undertake a review of this role - how we regulate but also how we provide support to boarding house residents, including for their health and well-being,” Councillor Smith said.
At Tuesday night’s Council Meeting, Councillors also unanimously resolved to:
• Provide additional funding to Newtown Neighbourhood Centre for support to the displaced residents, and consult on appropriate commemorative events or actions
• Write to the NSW Premier and NSW Minister for Housing asking for an urgent review of the management and regulation of boarding houses in NSW and reiterate the urgent need for more investment in social and affordable housing
On Tuesday 15 March 2022, an explosion and fire destroyed a registered boarding house at 117 Probert Street Newtown, killing three residents.
Council staff were able to confirm that the property’s Annual Fire Safety Statement was up to date.
“However, as reported in the media, there were known issues regarding health and hygiene at the boarding house,” said Councillor Smith.
“Subsequently, inspections of other known boarding houses belonging to the same owner also identified issues around health and hygiene as well as structural soundness.
“This is deeply concerning.
“This tragic event has highlighted the precarious conditions of boarding houses across Sydney.
“In the aftermath of this horrific and tragic event, there must be a renewed effort to improve safety and living conditions in boarding houses,” Councillor Smith said.
Newtown Neighbourhood Centre has launched an appeal to raise funds to directly benefit residents displaced by the boarding house fire. Donations can be made at supportboardinghouseresidents.raisely.com