Fit and proper test for rooming house operators
On 8 December 2015 the Rooming House Operators Bill 2015 (Vic) was introduced into the Victorian Parliament.
The Bill proposes to establish a new licensing scheme for rooming house operators, whereby only “fit and proper persons” will be permitted to operate rooming houses.
The aim of the Bill is to improve the operation of rooming houses and to protect the rights of its residents.
Under the Bill, licenses to operate rooming houses would be issued by the Business Licensing Authority. The agency responsible for enforcing the requirements of the Bill will be Consumer Affairs Victoria.
If passed by Parliament, the Bill will require all new and existing rooming house operators to demonstrate to the Authority that they are a “fit and proper person”. Where the operator of a rooming house is a company, this requirement will extend to its directors and secretaries.
Furthermore, where there is a rooming house manager at the premises, that person must also be deemed a “fit and proper person” before a license is granted to the operator of that premises.
Under the Bill, the following persons will not be considered “fit and proper persons” to operate rooming houses:
- persons who, within the past 10 years, have been convicted of crimes punishable by at least 3 months imprisonment which involve violence, dishonesty or drug trafficking;
- persons who have been bankrupt or insolvent within the past ten years;
- persons who have been found guilty of breaching rooming house laws in the past five years, including offences under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009; and
- persons whose licenses were cancelled within the last 5 years.
The Bill also proposes that licensed rooming house operators are to notify the Authority if the operator (or the manager) of the rooming house becomes ineligible to hold a licence by reason of the matters listed above.
The Bill will come before the Victorian Parliament for voting in 2016. If passed by both Houses of Parliament the Bill will become law. At this stage, the Bill is proposed to come into force before 1 July 2017.
What does this mean for councils?
Nothing at the moment, however once passed by Parliament and once in force, we recommend Council ensure that when assessing registration applications, transfers or renewals, that they obtain from the Business Licensing Authority confirmation that the proprietor and any manager is licenced.
Furthermore, if Council prosecutes an individual or company under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 orPublic Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 they should, following any appeal period, notify both the Business Licensing Authority and the Consumer Affairs Victoria.
We will provide a further update in the New Year once the Bill has been considered by the Parliament.
Published by: Macpherson Kelley, 15/12/15