Council wants more say on rooming houses

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FRANKSTON Council wants to play a bigger part in the regulation of local rooming houses.

The state government’s Department of Health and Human Services currently works with Consumer Affairs Victoria to regulate the private rooming house market. Rooming houses must be registered with council.

At their most recent meeting, Frankston councillors agreed to write to the Premier and other state MPs appealing for legislation changes to “empower local government”. Those proposed changes included mandating that private building surveyors notify council and neighbours of a property whose owner has plans for a rooming house development, and making private building surveyors advise council and neighbours of an approval to build prior to works commencing or issuing of an occupancy permit.

The report prepared by council officers read that “the overall intent of this formal motion of council is to break the chain of events that lead to immeasurable community harm, as a direct result of a limited cohort of rooming house operators, who demonstrate unbridled pleasure nurturing the money flow from these operations with scant or no regard for the surrounding amenity or wellbeing of others living nearby.”

Cr Glenn Aitken said that “this issue has been bleeding over for a year”. 

“Council does not oppose housing people and they understand that the rooming house scenario is part of a model for accommodating,” he said. “Council recognises there are rooming houses that are well run and cause no problems, but some are a running sore, there’s a lack of governance. 

“People with fairly extreme disorders in their life are bundled into a building together with minimal space, and that can be explosive. The shrapnel that spills out from that scenario leads to all sorts of situations for people next door and in adjoining areas.”

Consumer Affairs Victoria lists 74 rooming houses registered in the Frankston municipality. They define rooming houses as buildings where one or more rooms are available to rent, and four or more people in total can occupy those rooms.

Councillors also agreed to submit a draft motion to the Municipal Association Victoria seeking reform to allow them a bigger say in rooming house management.

All present Frankston councillors approved the motion.

First published in the Frankston Times – 3 August 2020

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