18 July 2014
Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, has called on the State Government to stop blaming councils for a problem and work with the City of Sydney and other councils to establish powers to stop illegal overcrowding in the city.
Mr Greenwich said, “Illegal overcrowded accommodation is dangerous, causes amenity problems for neighbours, increases strata costs and is bad for Sydney’s global reputation when overseas students are targeted.”
While councils can take action based on planning, building and fire safety breaches, they need to get permission to enter a premise and if they are denied access they need to get a search warrant, which gives dodgy accommodation operators time to evict tenants and hide evidence.
“The State Government should work with the City of Sydney to establish stronger powers that allow councils to inspect premises where there is strong evidence of dangerous overcrowding to collect conclusive evidence, while ensuring there are safeguards to protect privacy and stop vexatious complaints.
“I’ve already asked the government to include in its long awaited strata reforms limits on the number of adults to two per bedroom in apartments so that owners corporations can take action in the tribunal. The City of Sydney introduced this as a condition of consent in 2006 but this does not apply to buildings built before then or built outside of the local government area.”
There is a wider crisis in affordable housing that helps cause these illegal and unsafe operations. It is incredibly expensive to buy or rent in the inner city, where people need to live for jobs and services.
The NSW Government has taken the windfall stamp duty from increasing home prices at the same time as reducing low cost housing provisions in developments like Barangaroo and selling low cost homes at Millers Point.
The NSW Government should not be selling off our low cost inner city housing. I’ve asked the government to use Waratah Bonds funds to provide more low cost housing and support community housing providers open up extra low cost homes.
The government should strengthen strata laws to prevent expensive short-term rentals from driving prices up and availability down, and act to stamp out overcrowding.
The NSW Government also needs to push the federal government to change the tax and policy settings to encourage low cost housing.”