Report: Five years of the Boarding Houses Act 2012


The New South Wales Boarding Houses Act 2012 (the Act) has now been in operation for five years. Section 105 of the Act requires the Minister to review the Act before November 2018, to determine whether its policy objectives remain valid and its terms remain appropriate. This report is intended to assist the Minister in this process.

The Tenants Union of NSW (TUNSW) is the peak body representing the interests of renters in NSW, including residents and occupants of boarding houses in their various forms. We are an accredited Community Legal Centre specialising in New South Wales’ renting laws and the main resourcing body for the twenty Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services (TAASs) across the state. TUNSW and the TAASs have provided information, advice and advocacy to 1650 identified boarders and lodgers, in regions across New South Wales, since the Act commenced.

To assist in the review of the Boarding Houses Act 2012 this report assesses the Act on its own merits. We acknowledge that there have been changes in the sector over the lifetime of this Act, notably the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which may affect consideration of this Acts’ original purpose and intentions. Whilst this report should not be taken to be an early submission from the Tenants’ Union to the review it will act to inform our response to the review of the Boarding Houses Act and we hope it
assists others to that end as well.

For the purposes of this report we have drawn on the 5 years of practical experience working with the Act by both our organisation and the TAASs. We have consulted with local government and other advocacy services including university student organisations, neighbourhood centres and homelessness legal services. We have also spoken to residents of boarding houses directly to gain an understanding of their experiences.

The Act identifies two discrete types of boarding house – general registrable boarding houses and assisted boarding houses. The focus of this report is on general registrable boarding houses and how the Act has operated in this specific context. We expect to see similar analysis of the Act in the context of supported registrable boarding houses, so that the effectiveness of the Act can be assessed as a whole.