Boarding houses either have consent/approval (development application, building applications, construction certificates) and/or previous repealed Ordinance 42 Local Government Act 1919 licenses. Please note that BH premises are no longer licensed under Ordinance 42.
The premises must comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and the Local Government Act 1993, which refer to such things as the number of boarders/rooms, light and ventilation, kitchen facilities, general cleanliness and hygiene, fittings and fixtures, furniture, consent requirements to ensure compliance with the approval, and – in particular – fire safety.
The building owner is responsible to ensure that all required fire safety measures installed within the boarding house are maintained so they work at the required standard during a fire emergency. Every boarding house is required to have suitable fire safety measures.
Each year boarding house owners are required by regulation to provide an annual fire safety statement (AFSS) to Council and to NSW Fire and Rescue.
The implementation of good fire safety management practices which involves the owner, operator, manager, agent and occupants can reduce the likelihood of an outbreak and impact of fire.
Planning/zoning requirements as to where boarding houses can be permitted are regulated by Council's local environmental plans (LEPs). The type of construction and level of fire safety is regulated by the BCA (Building Code of Australia). Council's controls, plans and policies provide an urban planning framework to guide development in the local government area. Planning controls can be in the form of LEPs, development control plans (DCPs), State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) such as the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP 2009, as well as Council-specific codes, strategies and policies.
The following provides an overview of the Boarding House Act 2012:
- The Boarding House Act 2012 (BHA) and the Boarding House Regulations 2013 were passed as a whole-of-government response to concerns about the rights and safety of people living in boarding houses.
- The BHA requires operators of two types of boarding houses to register their boarding house with NSW Fair Trading. The 2 types of boarding houses that need to be registered are:
- "general" boarding houses – boarding premises of 5 or more residents, and
- "assisted" boarding houses – boarding premises where 2 or more residents have "additional needs".
Once boarding houses have been registered with Fair Trading, councils must inspect the premises within 12 months. The BHA provides councils with new powers to gain access to boarding houses in order to conduct the initial compliance inspection. The inspection is to ensure the premises comply with the council's own policies and existing laws including the Local Government Act 1993 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPAA).
The following links provide information concerning boarding houses:
For additional information please visit:
- NSW Legislation
- NSW Fire and Rescue (smoke alarm information)
- NSW Fair Trading
- Housing NSW
- Department of Family and Community Services (FACS)
- Tenants NSW
- Homelessness NSW
Classification of boarding houses – National Construction Code, Building Code of Australia
- a boarding house, guest house, hostel or the like:
- with a total area of all floors not exceeding 300 m² measured over the enclosing walls of the Class 1b; and
- in which not more than 12 persons would ordinarily be resident; or
- 4 or more single dwellings located on one allotment and used for short-term holiday accommodation, which are not located above or below another dwelling or another Class of building other than a private garage.
- a residential building, other than a building of Class 1 or 2, which is a common place of long term or transient living for a number of unrelated persons, including:
- a boarding house, guest house, hostel, lodging house or backpackers accommodation; or
- a residential part of a hotel or motel; or
- a residential part of a school; or
- accommodation for the aged, children or people with disabilities; or
- a residential part of a health-care building which accommodates members of staff; or
- a residential part of a detention centre
All building owners and property managers must maintain essential fire safety measures in their buildings, as outlined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
There is no requirement to submit an annual fire safety statement for single dwelling houses classified as 1a under the Building Code of Australia. Typically, Class 1a refers to single dwelling houses, terraces or villa houses. If in doubt, ask.
Section 81 of the Regulation requires the owner of a building maintain each essential fire safety measure in that building in accordance with relevant standards of performance, and those standards are usually nominated by Council or an accredited certifier in a previous development consent, construction certificate or complying development certificate, or a previous fire safety order that was issued upon that property.
Section 81 places ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of fire safety measures on the building owner.
Apart from legal requirements, other vital reasons for maintaining fire safety measure include:
- to ensure safety of building occupants.
- to preserve the function and performance of fire safety systems and equipment;
- to maintain and protect assets – proper preventative maintenance can save money; and
- to avoid business interruption and disruption to activities/operations in the event of fire.
An annual fire safety statement is a statement issued by or on behalf of the owner of a building to the effect that:
- each essential fire safety measure specified in the statement has been assessed by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was assessed, to be capable of performing:
in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that specified in the schedule, or
in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable otherwise than by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that to which the measure was originally designed and implemented, and
- the building has been inspected by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was inspected, to be in a condition that did not disclose any grounds for a prosecution under Division 7 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
Generally what will happen every year is that you may have several different contractors attending the premises at specific intervals throughout the year to provide a maintenance service for several different fire safety measures.
Each contractor should then give you some type of certification in relation to the assessment they have carried out, listing the specific measure/s they have serviced and referencing a particular Standard of Performance that the installed measure is achieving. Once you have obtained and gathered all this together, you are then required to consolidate all this information and transfer it collectively onto the one document known as an annual fire safety statement.
An annual fire safety statement for a building must deal with each essential fire safety measure in the building premises.
It must be submitted within 12 months after the date on which the previous statement or the final fire safety certificate was given, and it must be lodged within 3 months of the date of inspection and assessment. The statement must be submitted to Council and the Commissioner of NSW Fire and Rescue.