City of Sydney council has called for increased powers to investigate unlawful uses of property after 15 foreign national tenants had a lucky escape following a major blaze at a property in the city last week.
It's been reported the renters, who shared one portaloo toilet at the property, which was advertised online, lived in "squalid" conditions.
City of Sydney said it had no record of any complaint about the property prior to the incident, which has left some of the tenants in emergency charity accommodation.
A council spokeswoman told AAP that such complaints are not uncommon, with the council investigating more than 1,000 reports of unauthorised property use and overcrowding in the past year.
"Overcrowding and the use of premises as unauthorised short-term accommodation is an ongoing issue for many local councils," said the spokesperson, adding that it has called for greater powers to tackle the illegal accommodation problem.
The maximum penalty the property owner could be issued is as high as $1.1 million.