What is a boarding house?

Under the NSW planning framework, a boarding house is defined as a building that:

  1. is wholly or partly let in lodgings, and

  2. provides lodgers with a principal place of residence for 3 months or more, and

  3. may have shared facilities, such as a communal living room, bathroom, kitchen or laundry, and

  4. has rooms, some or all of which may have private kitchen and bathroom facilities, that accommodate one or more lodgers,

but does not include backpackers’ accommodation, group homes, serviced apartments, seniors housing, or hotel or motel accommodation.


Where are boarding houses permissible?

Boarding houses are permissible under both State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 and Sutherland Shire Local Environmental Plan 2015 (SSLEP2015).

The Affordable Rental Housing SEPP is the principal planning instrument permitting and regulating the development of boarding houses. Under the SEPP, boarding houses are permissible in zones, R1, R2, R3, R4, B1, B2, and B4. Boarding houses are also permitted with consent in a limited number of additional zones under Sutherland Shire Local Environmental Plan 2015 (SSLEP2015), i.e., in the R2 Low Density Residential (outside of ‘accessible areas’ as defined in the SEPP), B3 Commercial Core, and SP3 Tourist zones.


Why do we need controls for boarding houses?

While a boarding house is a specialised land use, it is not characterised by a distinctive building form.  Depending on the zone in which it is located, a boarding house may express as a dwelling house, multi dwelling housing, shop top housing or a residential flat building. Due to bonus density provisions in the AHR SEPP, boarding houses may also propose residential density in excess of existing norms in the subject zone. This presents a unique set of problems for their assessment. The proposed controls aim to give guidance to developers and Council assessment staff.

Boarding house developments are increasingly promoted as a 'low risk - high yield' alternative to traditional superannuation investment in Australia. In the past few years, Sutherland Shire Council has seen a rise in the number of DAs for boarding houses lodged. There are, however, no controls specific to boarding houses in Sutherland Shire's current Development Control Plan (SSDCP2015). Given the current challenging property market conditions and the shortage of affordable rental housing in the Greater Sydney area, further growth in the number of new boarding house DAs is expected. It is therefore sensible that Council develops controls to address public concerns related to size/number of proposed lodgers, expected built form and residential density, potential amenity impacts on neighbouring properties, and public safety concerns related to boarding house development. 

The aim of the new controls is to ensure that boarding house developments are consistent with other development in the zone, integrate into the surrounding built form, and do not adversely affect neighbourhood character.

For more information, see the Council Report and Draft Controls in the Document Library.


What are the Plans of Management Guidelines?

A condition of consent for a boarding house development is an approved Plan of Management for its operation. The proposed Guidelines aim to ensure that approved boarding houses are managed to minimise disturbance to residents and neighbours, provide a procedure to receive and resolve complaints, and operate in accordance with their conditions of consent and the Boarding House Act.