Lodging House Review

In January 2020, the discussion paper “Managing lodging house health risks in Western Australia” was released for comment, and the Department of Health (DOH) received 44 responses.

The purpose of this consultation was to inform the implementation of the Public Health Act and the review of existing provisions under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 (Health MP Act), Part 5, Dwellings and health local laws concerning lodging houses.

The DOH sought to gain a better understanding of the potential impacts on and opinions of industry, local government, other government agencies and members of the public associated with the management of public health risks in lodging houses.

Shelter WA Submission

Shelter WA provided a submission developed in consultation with our members who provide boarding and lodging accommodation. This includes, community housing providers, homelessness service providers, and individuals with lived experience of residing in boarding and lodging accommodation facilities. The Shelter WA submission can be viewed here.

Findings on Regulatory Options

Below is a brief comparison of the findings from the Consultation Summary Report and the Shelter WA.

  • Respondents were asked to nominate their preferred option out of three proposed options consisting of:
  1. Repeal without replacement (Option A);
  2. Repeal and replace with model local laws (Option B); and
  3. Provide newly updated regulations under the Public Health Act (Option C).

From the responses:

  • 7% of respondents chose not to provide a preferred option;
  • 2% of respondents supported Option A;
  • 2% of respondents supported Option B;
  • 89% of respondents supported Option C;

Shelter WA in our submission did not support Option A and B, whilst supported Option C.

DOH Recommendation:
The DOH recommends that ‘Option C’: continue to regulate lodging houses regulations under the Public Health Act using housing regulations’ is adopted.

Findings on Proposals

Next Steps of the Review

As per the consultation Summary Report, the next steps are:

“The information gathered in this consultation indicates that there is a majority preference for ongoing regulation of lodging houses under the Public Health Act. The DOH will seek to further refine the definition of a lodging house and work with other government bodies to ensure no regulatory duplication or gaps. Once this information has been finalised, the DOH will consider the need to develop a regulatory impact statement based on the significance of the economic impact these regulations may pose.”

The Department of Health

The Department of Health also recognises that legislative changes to the Residential Tenancies Act and short-stay accommodation may impact this review and endeavour to work with the relevant government departments to ensure there is no duplications or regulatory gaps. Shelter WA welcomes this as an opportunity for legislation to better align, for example, Shelter WA recommends that the Public Health Act Review use the proposed definitions contained in Shelter WA’s submission to the Residential Tenancies Act Review.

The full Consultation Summary Report is available on the Department of Health website and should be read in conjunction with the Managing housing health risks in WA discussion paper. For the Shelter WA submission, please see here.

Reference

Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. 2020. Shelter in the storm – COVID-19 and homelessness: Interim report of the inquiry into homelessness in Australia. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, October 2020, Canberra. Access here.