On 9 December, the Minister for Housing and Public Works made an announcement that the department would launch a targeted investigation into unregulated operations in the supported accommodation sector.
The department administers the Residential Services (Accreditation) Act 2002 (the Act) which regulates the conduct of residential services to protect the health, safety and basic freedoms of residents, encourages service providers to continually improve the way they conduct residential services and supports fair trading in the residential service industry.
Currently the department receives and investigates complaints about residential services. This targeted investigation is designed to draw out services that have been under the radar and assist with compliance.
A residential service is primarily defined as premises where the main purpose is to provide accommodation, in return for the payment of rent, in one or more rooms. The room or rooms must be occupied or available for occupation by at least four residents and each resident must have the right to occupy one room and share other facilities with other residents.
The purpose of this investigation is to strengthen arrangements for protecting vulnerable people who are seeking low-cost short or long term accommodation. Particular considerations include the safety and welfare of people needing assistance, the standard of the services provided to them and the suitability of operators who provide these services.
A final report on the review outlining recommendations and potential legislative changes will be prepared by the end of March 2017 with the high-level findings of the review being made publically available within a reasonable timeframe after the conclusion of the investigation.
Terms of the investigation
The investigation will:
- Undertake investigations by the end of March 2017 into specific instances of alleged illegal accommodation premises operating as residential services or rooming accommodation in Queensland.
- Invite concerned members of the public, service providers, other government agencies, local government authorities and advocates or other stakeholders to notify any concerns with regard to:
- Premises that may be operating as illegal accommodation services
- Gaps and shortcomings with the current legislative and regulatory protections in this area
- Specific details of the reports will be kept confidential including the identity of those providing input, subject to any legal requirements.
- Apply an amnesty from prosecution for conducting an unregulated service to services identified through the targeted investigation period that take immediate action to comply with the legislation.
- Identify and report on systemic issues or gaps with the current legislative framework in Queensland.
- Report on legislative amendments necessary to strengthen consumer protection, community education and support better service provision to vulnerable Queenslanders.
If a person suspects there is an unregistered boarding house or want to make a contribution to this investigation, please call Regulatory Services on (07) 3008 3450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.