Tenancy protections for boarders and lodgers being considered

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Consumer Protection is seeking community feedback about whether new laws should be introduced to regulate boarding and lodging in WA.

Boarders and lodgers are currently not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, although boarding premises accommodating six or more people need to be registered with local government and comply with planning, health and other regulations.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said, while the relationship between landlord and boarder is currently covered by common law, it is now time to consider if more specific laws are necessary or appropriate.

“Occupants of boarding houses are often vulnerable people on low incomes such as the unemployed, disability pensioners and single parents. However, students, seasonal workers, backpackers, fly in/fly out workers and retirees may also use boarding arrangements, as do those who choose this style of housing because of low establishment costs and flexibility,” Mr Hillyard said.

“Apart from providing affordable accommodation, some boarding houses also provide support services for those with special needs or who may have become homeless.

“Many boarders and lodgers have limited financial resources and their lack of alternative accommodation options can sometimes put them in a vulnerable position, leaving them open to exploitation or eviction without reason or reasonable notice. So we need to consider if there is a need to provide these people with specific legal protection.

“But new regulations could come at a cost to the industry and, as boarding houses are an invaluable component of social housing, the impact of possible future regulations has to be carefully assessed.”

The consultation paper sets out a range of options for consideration including keeping the status quo, developing an industry code of practice or amending current tenancy laws to include specific provisions to regulate the boarding and lodging industry.

“Public consultation on this issue has been designed to gain a full understanding of the issues that may affect the boarding industry and those who choose this type of accommodation. It will help to determine what new laws, if any, are required to protect both the owners of the properties and the tenants who reside in them,” the Acting Commissioner said.

The Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement is available on the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consultations. Interested parties are encouraged to lodge a submission or complete a short online survey before the closing date of 16 December 2016. Submissions can also be posted to Consumer Protection or lodged by email consultations@commerce.wa.gov.au.

END OF RELEASE

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
28 Sep 2016

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