State Government targets unregistered boarding houses
A CRACKDOWN on unregistered boarding houses in south-east Queensland has led to investigations being launched into 33 properties.
The announcement last month of the launch of targeted investigations in unregistered boarding houses had resulted in 11 inquiries about 14 houses in suburban Brisbane, Caboolture, Ipswich, Bundaberg and the Gold Coast.
The Queensland Housing Department's Regulatory Services division had also been conducting seven inquiries involving up to 19 properties prior to the announcement of the targeted investigations.
Housing Minister Mick de Brenni has offered amnesty to those who volunteer to become a registered provider during the investigation, due to finish at the end of March.
"My department will offer them every assistance to make that happen,” he said.
Mr de Brenni said the department's investigations into unregistered boarding houses were to make sure people were living in safe and secure accommodation.
Telltale signs of an unregistered boarding housing include too many residents, regularly changing tenants and the continual advertising of vacancies.
The provision of residential services is primarily defined as premises where the main purpose was to provide accommodation, in return for the payment of rent, in one or more rooms.
The room or rooms must be occupied or available for occupation by at least four residents and each resident must have the right to occupy one room and share other facilities with other residents.
The Department of Housing investigation has sought to strengthen arrangements for protecting vulnerable people who were seeking low-cost short or long-term accommodation.
It has focused on the safety and welfare of people needing assistance, the standard of the services provided to them and the suitability of operators who provide the services.
"Exploitation and unsafe practices have too often been common place in unregistered accommodation,” Mr de Brenni said.
"Last year my department investigated an unregistered boarding housing operating on a property stacked in with up to 40 adults at one time.
"They identified a lack of adequate training of staff and volunteers, as well as a lack of safety procedures and support for people with medical or mental health conditions. Concerns were also raised about overcharging for rent and meals.
"These types of arrangements put people at risk, which is why it's important that registration and standards are in place.”
Mr de Brenni said the Department of Housing would use all powers available to it to make sure landlords did the right thing.
"The idea that those who need shelter are exploited is as far from the spirit of mateship as you can get,” he said.
Members of the public can report a suspected unregistered boarding house by contacting Department of Housing and Public Works Regulatory Services on 07 3008 3450, or email the department at email@example.com.
Information about the targeted investigation can be found at www.hpw.qld.gov.au/reportillegalboardinghouseactivity.