A boarding house provides accommodation for a fee. Boarding houses are sometimes called lodging houses. All boarding houses operating within New South Wales must be registered with the NSW Department of Fair Trading.
There are two types of ‘registrable’ boarding houses covered by the Boarding Houses Act 2012. These are:
- General boarding houses – accommodate five or more paying residents, excluding the proprietor, the manager and members of their families. General boarding houses do not include hotels, motels, backpackers’ hostels, aged care homes or other types of premises excluded by the Act
- Assisted boarding houses – accommodate two or more persons with additional needs.
A person with additional needs has a disability such as an age related frailty; a mental illness and/or an intellectual, psychiatric, sensory or physical disability, and needs support or supervision with daily tasks and personal care such as showering, preparing meals or managing medication. Assisted boarding houses are licensed by NSW Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), which is part of the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).
Boarding houses and group homes have more stringent fire safety conditions imposed on them than standard residential style accommodation. When this type of dwelling is used to accommodate not more than 12 persons, the dwelling is classified as a Class 1B residence under the Building Codes of Australia (BCA).
A class 1B occupancy must have:
- A Fire Safety Schedule; and
- An Annual Fire Safety Statement that ensures the requirements set out in the Schedule are met. (Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, Clause 167 & 168)
- A minimum of one battery operated smoke alarm per bedroom, and
- A minimum of one battery operated smoke alarm with built in lighting, or lighting initiated by alarm activation, in the hallway between the bedrooms and the exit.
- Smoke alarms must meet Australian Standard AS3786. (Building Code of Australia, Volume 2, Part 188.8.131.52 & 184.108.40.206)
NSW Fire & Rescue also recommend
- Ensure access and egress routes in hallways and stairwells are kept clear of obstructions
- Learn and practice an escape plan regularly
- Understand how to contact emergency services on 000 (triple zero)
- Practice safe use of kitchens and enforce rules prohibiting cooking in bedrooms
- Ensure heaters are used properly. Do not use them for drying clothes or towels and keep them clear of furniture and curtains
- If rooms have individual locks make sure a caretaker, manager or staff has an easily accessed key to all rooms
- Ensure that smoking is prohibited in the bedrooms.