Where will the tenants go?

Where will tenants go when we kick them out?

The proposed changes to strata law due to hit parliament later this year are apparently going to allow us to control the number of people living in apartments in our strata schemes and put an end to multi-occupancy, sub-divided flats and hot-bunking, according to this story.

We shall see. To make this happen, the Fair Trading minister requires the support of other departments such as the Attorney General’s office and Lands, as well as parliamentary colleagues who may not either know or care about strata.

But, assuming common sense prevails,  one critical factor that should not be forgotten is that it’s the crippling shortage of affordable rental properties that causes the problem in the first place. If you drive tenants out of multi-occupancy dwellings, where do they go?

And doesn’t transferring responsibility to Owners Corporations mean that some buildings will inevitably become dominated by greedy landlords who will block any attempts to limit the number of people per apartment? It’s already happening with illegal short-term rentals.

You can’t leave this to strata owners or, more significantly, the vested interests that run many buildings. The Government needs to create a law that establishes a ‘liveability’ benchmark – a legally enforceable formula that matches floor space and rooms with the number of adults allowed to sleep there.

This formula needs to apply to all rented homes, houses and apartments, retroactively; otherwise it will only shift the problem to existing buildings where these rules don’t apply.

But again, what about the displaced tenants? There has to be some encouragement for developers to stop planting big ticket, high profit, resort-style developments in areas that really need safe and secure, low-cost accommodation.

Perhaps we can stop these trade-offs where the developer pays the council a cash ‘incentive’ so they can put a few extra floors on their latest monument to mammon.  You want more sub-penthouses? How about also building some accommodation where students and the low-paid can live cheaply and safely?

The full-length version of this comment piece can be found here. Log on the Forum and tell us who you think should decide how many people get to live in one apartment.

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