Council issues fire safety reminder to landlords
IN THE lead-up to spring, Southern Downs Regional Council is reminding all landlords and seasonal employers that backpacker and fruit picker accommodation must meet council and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service regulations for tourist accommodation.
Council planning compliance officer Vicki Sawyer said during random inspections last financial year a number of backpacker-style accommodation units were found in breach of rules.
"In some cases the accommodation was way below standard, to the point of being a health risk with overloaded septic tanks and crowded bedrooms.
"Both council and QFRS are extremely concerned about safety and we do not want a repeat of the Childers backpacker hostel fire where lives were lost in 2000.
"Anyone wanting to rent short-term accommodation units to backpackers or fruit pickers must have planning approval and for some properties this might require a change in building classification for the structure.
"Planning laws are designed to ensure people are living in safe and hygienic premises and it is the responsibility of landlords to ensure all requirements are met.
"As many people would know landlord insurance is deemed invalid if a property is illegally tenanted," she said.
Stanthorpe-based economic development officer Diane Anstee said a number of organisations including SDRC, QFRS and the Office of Fair Trading, had joined forces to present a special information session on compliance issues for backpacker accommodation on August 8 from 10am at SDRC chambers at Stanthorpe.
Ms Anstee said the information session was an important event for prospective landlords, real estate agents, hostel owners, caravan park owners and interested community members.
"The backpackers and fruit pickers are a vital part of our local economy and we should do all we can to support them not only in their work, but in their living arrangements.
"Anyone interested in attending the information session can call 1300 MY SDRC (1300 697 372) for more details," she said.