Swan Hill Rural City Council has started a pro-active campaign to bring rooming houses in the Robinvale region up to standard to protect the health and safety of their tenants.
Rooming houses are houses that are sub-let to four or more people. They must be registered with Council and comply with health, building and planning rules to ensure the safety of their tenants.
There are two legal, registered rooming houses in our municipality – one in Swan Hill and one in Robinvale.
But Council’s Director Development and Planning Heather Green said a co-ordinated campaign would identify other potential rooming houses and work with property owners to help them comply with regulations.
“We have received 24 complaints in the past 12 months about properties that might not meet regulations, including issues with overcrowding and people living in sheds,” Ms Green said.
“These have been dealt with, but we suspect there are rooming houses operating illegally in the Robinvale area to cater for transient workers,” she said.
“Any unregistered rooming house is especially concerning because many vulnerable people in our community turn to them. In Robinvale, it is most often seasonal workers who live in this type of accommodation due to their short-term needs and due to the affordability of rooming houses.”
Council is now asking property owners to come forward if they think they might be operating a rooming house without approval. Robinvale residents who are concerned about potentially illegal rooming houses in their neighbourhood are also asked to contact Council.
“We will work with property owners and or rooming house operators, giving them time and encouragement to comply with health, building and planning rules. If property owners or operators do not make changes to comply, we will take legal action, which can include orders to make safety upgrades, a ban on people occupying homes and fines,” Ms Green said.
Council officers will prioritise house investigations based on their level of potential risk to tenants. Officers will consider a number of things when inspecting properties, including those related to overcrowding, disease control, maintenance, fire safety and water supply.
If you want to talk about your property or report a potential rooming house in the Robinvale area, please call Council’s Public Health Department on 5036 2591.