Examines the policy and practical challenges being encountered in the development of a legitimate and viable rooming/boarding house sector, and how might these best be overcome through an improved regulatory regime and other measures to address a range of housing needs.
This Discussion Paper is provided to invitees to an Investigative Panel on Rooming House Futures as part of a project funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).
The principal question framing this project asks:
What are the policy and practical challenges being encountered in the development of a legitimate and viable rooming house/boarding house sector and how might these best be overcome through an improved regulatory regime and other measures to address a range of housing needs?
Key features of the rooming house sector in Victoria are:
- There are 1131 registered rooming houses, with 60 per cent operated by individuals and 40 per cent by organisations. The majority are in suburban locations in suburban Melbourne, particularly south-eastern Melbourne and regional centres, most notably Geelong. The number of unregistered rooming houses, for which there are varying estimates, is unknown.
- The growth of new rooming houses has principally stemmed from the conversion of existing private houses into rooming houses in the suburbs which has arrested and reversed the decline of rooming houses as traditional older style rooming houses were demolished or converted back to single family use.
- Rooming houses accommodate disadvantaged and vulnerable people but, recently, new forms of demand have emerged which includes that from international and domestic students, travellers, low-income earners and some types of key workers.
- People find accommodation in rooming houses in different ways including through tertiary education providers, referrals from not-for-profit agencies, online sites such as Gumtree and through word-of-mouth.
Developments in the sector have been market-led with increasing growth in segments in the rooming/boarding house sector that appear to have outpaced policy and regulatory settings. Chapter 2 presents an analysis of available evidence on the rooming house market. In the period from 2006 through to 2012 Non Government Organisation (NGO) campaigns highlighted issues of amenity, health and safety for rooming house residents in the context of a changing housing market and called for regulatory reform. In Chapter 3 an account of changes to the system of regulation that followed a government review is provided along with an analysis of stakeholder views of the outcome. In Chapter 4 a summary account of significant outstanding issues is presented which lead to identification of key issues for further discussion by the Investigative Panel (Chapter 5).