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Accommodation in old shipping containers is just not on

July 7, 2014 Headline News, Hotel News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59A fire in a Sydney industrial area has unearthed an illegal and squalid cluster of so-called student accommodation. The residents were actually Japanese and Korean backpackers, living in caravans and rusty old shipping containers.

The practice may reflect exploitation, a revolt against high rents in Sydney, or a mix of the two.

The Backpacker Operators Association has called for action from councils to deal with the “long-term problem” of illegal hostels in Sydney. The Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA) fears that such dodgy accommodation may be widespread. The AAA has expressed deep concern about the fire in Alexandria, Sydney, which endangered backpackers staying in illegal accommodation. Firefighters said it was lucky nobody was injured or killed.

The news of the fire didn’t come at a good time for the NSW accommodation industry, following lurid disclosures by Fair Trading NSW about complaints received over squalid lodgings. The complaints involved horrors like spiders, bugs and mice running throughout rooms, spa taps oozing a mysterious black substance, a guest who had to barricade himself in his bedroom as two enormous cockroaches took over the bathroom, and a group of young travellers who allege that a previous guest defecated in the wastepaper basket in their hostel room. See Spiders, mice, bugs, poo in bins – hotels raise eyebrows

Speaking of the fire, AAA chief executive Richard Munro said: “Revelations surrounding the incident are just shocking. It’s astounding, and downright lucky that the incident hasn’t resulted in a far more catastrophic outcome.

“The situation of illegal accommodation is widespread and clearly unsafe, and importantly is not only confined to cheap student accommodation.

“There has been a recent surge in illegal, non-compliant accommodation through the use of new companies using residential homes or other structures as accommodation options. These offer no safety or protection to short stay tourists and breach existing legislation.

“The Association is forming a working group to ensure that adequate laws are strengthened via the 2015 review of the building code.

“We are open to working with Federal and State governments and call upon authorities to ensure codes remain relevant and are strengthened where needed for the overall protection of consumers and the community.

“As we’ve seen today, the risks and consequences of using non-traditional and non-compliant accommodation are real,” he said.

The Accommodation Association of Australia strongly urges all consumers to ensure they seek accommodation that complies with existing legislation for their own safety.

You can dob in illegal hostels on a special page on the Backpacker Operators Association website, boansw.org.au

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. “The Association is forming a working group to ensure that adequate laws are strengthened via the 2015 review of the building code.

    “We are open to working with Federal and State governments and call upon authorities to ensure codes remain relevant and are strengthened where needed for the overall protection of consumers and the community.

    … It is my personal view that the above statements are common and hypocrit,
    Impossible that only at the break of a tragedy authorities make such statements.
    Impossible to believe, however that the case was not known and no provisions taken.

    Such cases make the world small and very similar!

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