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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > Housing > Industry regulation > Residential services > Targeted investigation into illegal boarding houses and rooming accommodation

Targeted investigation into illegal boarding houses and rooming accommodation

On 6 June 2017, the Minister for Housing and Public Works released the findings of a Targeted investigation into illegal boarding houses and rooming accommodation. This investigation was conducted by Regulatory Services between 9 December 2016 and 31 March 2017.

The investigation was conducted under 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.

A residential service is a service conducted in a boarding house in which each resident occupies a room and shares a bathroom, kitchen, dining room and/or common room with the other residents. The main purpose of the service is to provide accommodation, in return for the payment of rent, where the service is occupied, or available for occupation, at least 4 residents.

The purpose of this investigation was to strengthen arrangements for protecting vulnerable people who are seeking low-cost short or long term accommodation. Particular considerations included 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.

Terms of the investigation

The investigation:

  1. focused on 36 specific instances of alleged illegal accommodation premises operating as residential services or rooming accommodation in Queensland.
  2. invited 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.
  3. offered 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.
  4. identified and reported on systemic issues or gaps with the current legislative framework in Queensland.
  5. reported on legislative amendments necessary to strengthen consumer protection, community education and support better service provision to vulnerable Queenslanders. 

Findings and recommendations

The low number of complaints (36) received in response to a state-wide investigation supports the conclusion that the system of regulatory actions being taken by the department against unregistered service providers is effective in minimising industry non-compliance. However, the department has identified opportunities to improve the operations of the RSA Act.

Amendments to the RSA Act were identified to improve the terminology used and to provide greater clarity to ensure:

  • provisions that could allow premises to operate unregistered are not misused;
  • registered premises have a fire safety management plan and comply with it;
  • only suitable persons can manage and operate residential services;
  • premises comply with accreditation standards sooner; and
  • the regulator is provided with an appropriate level of information to ensure service providers comply with the legislation.

 These improvements to the operation of the RSA Act and amendments to address ambiguity and uncertainty in the RSA Act, including the closing of potential loopholes, progressed as part of the Housing Legislation (Building Better Futures) Amendment Bill 2017. Read about the 2017 Amendments to The Act.

The report of the targeted investigation into illegal boarding houses and rooming accommodation (PDF, 170KB) has a full list of the findings and recommendations.

Contact information

If a person suspects there is an unregistered boarding house operating in their neighbourhood, please call Regulatory Services on (07) 3008 3450 or email

Last updated 27 March 2018    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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