This information has been prepared by Equal Access Pty Ltd to provide guidance on access requirements to Class 1b boarding houses (or rooming houses).
Equal Access Pty Ltd is the only disability access consultants with staff qualified in building surveying and with a vast experience in assessing Class 1b’s for compliance, not only from an access perspective but also from Council enforcement and building permit perspective. This experience sees our consultancy perfectly positioned to assist clients with accessibility advice when converting properties to a boarding house or a rooming house. We have intimate and practical experience and can assist in all stages of a Class 1b housing project. We know the building laws, disability laws and how the Council will assess any Class 1b building.
According to a 2009 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are four million people in Australia with a disability, which equates to 18.5% of the population who could require accessible rental accommodation within the community.
A Class 1b building can be defined as one with a total floor area less than 300 m2 (measured over the enclosed or outer wall of the whole Class 1b building) and where not more than 12 people would ordinarily be resident. Any accommodation larger than this would usually be defined as a Class 3 building, such as a hotel, motel, backpackers etc.
On the 1 May 2011 the Commonwealth Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 (Premises Standards) was introduced and adopted into the Building Code of Australia (BCA) as well as state-based legislation, including the Victorian Building Regulations 2006. The objectives of the Premises Standards are to ensure that “dignified, equitable, cost-effective and reasonably achievable access to buildings, and facilities and services within buildings, is provided for people with a disability“. The Premises Standards apply to new buildings and existing buildings being altered, including certain ‘specified’ Class 1b buildings, and sets out clear parameters for access requirements. Prior to 1 May 2011, there were no prescriptive requirements within the building regulations (including previous versions of the BCA) for Class 1b buildings, but lack of access to these buildings was (and still is) subject to complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).
The application of the access provisions of the Premises Standards and BCA applies to ‘specified’ types of Class 1b buildings:
It is important to note that Class 1 b buildings that are not included in the above definition of a ‘specified’ Class 1 b building (i.e. with less than four dwellings on the same allotment or less than four bedrooms in a converted existing house) would continue to be subject to possible ODA complaints. But compliance with the Premises Standards and BCA would grant the landlord immunity under the provisions of both documents. If a landlord fails to acknowledge the accessibility requirements of the building and operates the building without considering the needs for accessible accommodation, it will present a risk to the landlord under the DDA. A person with a disability could make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission under Section 23: Access to Premises, or Section 25: Accommodation. Furthermore, if a landlord operates any kind of boarding or rooming house without the necessary Building (or Planning) permits, the local Council could take action on the landlord including serving Notices and Orders that could see the landlord in the Magistrates Court where penalties, legal costs and criminal convictions could be imposed. It is therefore important for all parties involved in the rooming house industry to consider accessibility in the early stages of planning for any rooming house. Taking accessibility into account during the design stage or feasibility stage has the potential of saving time and money.
The following are the typical access provisions required for a Class 1b building:
Equal Access Pty Ltd are perfectly positioned to assist with providing access advice at all stages of all types of building projects. We are one of Australia’s leading Accredited Disability Access Consultancies and are registered with the Association of Consultants in Access Australia. For a number of years we have provided a specialist consulting service to enhance the built environment and to provide ‘Equal Access’ for members of the community with a disability.
Download the Class_1B_Building_Converstions_Factsheet for more information on establishing a 1B property such as student accommodation, rooming houses, bed & breakfasts B&B and refuges.
For Specialist Disability Accommodation visit SDA Consulting Australia
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