The NSW Government has a new plan to deal with illegal accommodation in Sydney. New laws being implemented by planning minister Pru Goward will give the Land and Environment Court the power to order utility providers to cut off gas, water and electricity to hostels if they are illegal or break consent conditions.
The plan expands a law that currently only applies to brothels. The Planning minister said the new laws would give local councils increased powers to deal with illegal hostels and boarding houses.
““These new laws will strengthen the action Councils can ask the Court to take against hostels,” Goward said.
“Those operators who flout the law and put our tourist economy at risk need to be held accountable. Shutting off electricity and water has an immediate effect on a hostel’s business. It means bags are packed, bunks lay empty and the income is cut off as quickly as the power.”
It will give councils the power to enter a non-residential premises without notice to investigate an offence and use reasonable force to enter premises without written authority, as well as seize items connected with an offence and demand.
“This means if a local council has a reasonable suspicion a backpacker hostel is allowing guests to stay too long or not maintaining basic hygiene standards, they will now have even stronger powers to investigate them and take action,” Goward said.
The new legislation has the potential to be a huge boost to the City of Sydney Council, which wages a perennial battle against illegal accommodation in the city. A spokesperson for the council said they would wait to see the final legislation before commenting.