21 'visitors' found in one house

BACKPACKERS have put a whole new meaning to the term slumber party, with 21 beds found in a three-bedroom residence on Wantley St.

Fire crews attended the house after a concerned Warwick resident queried the legality of the number of overseas guests staying in the house.

Acting manager for community safety in the South West region Brad Jeffs said they received a tip off on Tuesday of this week and attended the property on Wednesday.

"The inspector and a fellow from my office conducted an inspection and found 21 beds in this house," Mr Jeffs said.

"Legislation says no more than five unrelated persons are allowed to stay in a house unless it is registered as a hostel or boarding house."

He said if the owner of the house wanted to operate as backpackers accommodation they would need to seek council approval.

Mr Jeffs said the fire safety risks that came with that number of people living in the one place was hazardous and could have catastrophic consequences, as with the Childers hostel fire in 2000.

"When you have that many people staying in one dwelling, you must have adequate smoke alarms installed and there were no alarms (in this house) and no management plans to deal with a fire if it were to eventuate," Mr Jeffs said.

He said his legal team would now assess the next step.

This comes as a number of Warwick citizens began to notice an influx of backpackers in town of late, but only one out of the ten real estates could agree. Does this mean the backpackers in town are not going through real estates, but are reverting to unregistered dwellings where they share a home with 20 other travellers?

Helen Harm of Helen Harm Real Estate said although she had not busted any of her backpacking tenants for overcrowding, she had been asked if more people could move into already fully occupied units, and denied their requests.

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