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Shifty landlords stuffing tenants in like sardines

21 July 2014 Elyse Perrau

The illegal accommodation network in Sydney is a “big problem”, with dodgy landlords cramming students and backpackers into residential properties.

Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) president Malcolm Gunning said the issue is “widespread” throughout Sydney, particularly in the inner-city area as there are a lot of students and schools.

“It is a problem [and] the reason it's a problem is it's not just overcrowding the building; when you build a high-rise building they build a hydraulics service for the amount of people that should be in there,” he told Residential Property Manager.

“For example, in a two-bedroom apartment there is normally 1.65 people. They build it to the building code of Australia averages, so that is to do with the hot water systems, the sewer systems.

“So when you start piling in more people it puts great pressure on the building itself because the building is not constructed to house that many people.”

Mr Gunning said because accommodation is expensive in Sydney there are professional rorters that are capitalising on people needing a cheaper place to live.

“In fact, there are groups that go round and lease these apartments in the city and there might be five of them that are only allowed to accommodate 10-12 people and they are actually accommodating 30,” he said.

“They might be charging people $150-$200 a week, so this is a real problem.

“The REI says you should be using a property management agent because managing agents generally are very mindful, since there are periodic inspections," he added.

The City of Sydney said overcrowding and the use of premises as unauthorised short-term accommodation is an ongoing issue for many local councils.

“In our submission to the NSW Planning System Review, the city urged the NSW government to consider giving council officers greater powers to investigate and enforce breaches of the [Environmental Planning and Assessment] Act,” a City of Sydney spokeswoman told Residential Property Manager.

“Any changes to right of entry powers must be balanced against the rights and privacy of occupants and owners.”

Shifty landlords stuffing tenants in like sardines
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