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Increased demand from students, retirees and families excluded from private rental have put new pressures on marginal rental accommodation. However residents—especially those with high needs—remain vulnerable in this tenure and often experience poor management, lack of safety and low quality or expensive housing. Better regulation and governance of the sector, licensing of operators and effective outreach programs to relocate the most vulnerable to more secure accommodation are required to address these problems.

This research project investigated the marginal rental housing market, which includes boarding or rooming houses and residential (caravan) park accommodation and provided a typology of marginal rental housing. Demand for marginal accommodation has come from low-income people some of whom have high needs, but also from middle-income retirees, fly-in fly-out workers and students. The number of family households residing in marginal housing has also increased. Unemployment , retirement and the shortage of affordable private rental housing are key drivers of demand.

Marginal renters faced difficult experiences with their housing, especially in terms of management, standards and quality of buildings and facilities, cost and affordability of accommodation, security of tenure and safety. Residents of residential parks are vulnerable if faced with eviction or park closure.

Many occupants of boarding or rooming houses have high support needs due to psychiatric and/or physical illness, disability and unemployment. Outreach programs can be effective in relocating such occupants, especially those in poor-quality marginal housing, to more appropriate social or private rental housing.

Policy-makers need to consider comprehensive, even nationally uniform, legislative and regulatory reform, including compulsory registration. Regulation needs to be enforced at a local level by properly resourced staff. Managers and operators of marginal rental housing should be licensed and receive training, while renters at risk and those with special needs should be supported by outreach services. Policy-makers need to explore alternative housing models that offer greater security of tenure, minimum standards for buildings, facilities and other services, and enhanced autonomy of occupants.


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