NSW to step up boarding house crackdown

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The New South Wales government is set to take a more sophisticated approach towards stamping out illegal rental arrangements in the state.

According to reports in Fairfax media outlets, NSW Fair Trading is set to take a more proactive method in stamping out illegal boarding houses in Sydney through utilising government data sources.

Rather than rely on old school methods such as tip-offs, NSW Fair Trading will use the NSW Data Analytics Centre to analyse information from the electoral roll, utility bills and complaints made to Fair Trading in an effort to identify overcrowded rental accommodation.

“By comparing the water use for a standard two-bedroom apartment with one that has many residents could be the first alert of an illegal boarding house,” NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello told Fairfax media.

“If you know the Big Data, then, rather than knocking on 100 doors, we can do 10 targeted homes and it’s likely a slumlord will be behind one of them,” Dominello told Fairfax.

According to the Fairfax report, the City of Sydney Council is currently preparing evidence for two cases against landlords alleged to have carried out illegal boarding operations.

Those cases are the result of the dedicated investigation team the City of Sydney established 12 months ago, which has so far carried out more than 30 search warrants and handed out $75,000 worth of fines.

Ned Cutcher, senior policy officer at the NSW Tenants Union said the prevalence of illegal boarding houses is a sign of the affordability and other issues present in the NSW rental market.

​“People working in tenancy advice and advocacy services find [tenants subject to] interpersonal problems, assault and inappropriate treatment,” Cutcher told Fairfax media.

“[Illegal accommodation is] an indication of how dysfunctional our housing system is.”

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