NYC boarding house 1943 (Image: Esther Bubley)

There are currently two DAs at Hunters Hill Council for boarding houses in Gladesville and a bunch in Ryde, one of which, at 126 Victoria Road, Gladesville has just been approved by the Land and Environment Court.  I have never come across a single application for a boarding house in my local area before.

What’s happening?

Could it be a scam designed to twist the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP for the benefit of developers, allowing them to construct bed sitting rooms with their own kitchens and bathrooms and minimum off-street parking?

The Standard Instrument LEP defines a Boarding House as a building that:

(a)  is wholly or partly let in lodgings, and

(b)  provides lodgers with a principal place of residence for 3 months or more, and

(c)  may have shared facilities, such as a communal living room, bathroom, kitchen or laundry, and

(d)  has rooms, some or all of which may have private kitchen and bathroom facilities, that accommodate one or more lodgers,

but does not include backpackers’ accommodation, a group home, hotel or motel accommodation, seniors housing or a serviced apartment.

I don’t see anything about ensuring that the accommodation should be particularly for those on low incomes, for whom boarding houses were originally designed, nor any way that this could be policed.    There is a prohibition on strata or community title subdivision of the boarding house in the SEPP, however, I don’t see how the owner of a boarding house would want to build such a place unless they could rent it out at the highest possible rate.  Also, as others are finding out across Sydney, the potential for using the units for Airbnb rental is not policed.