IMMIGRATION NEWS AILS logo small                
18th March 2013
Volume 237

 Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Dear students, 


Welcome to the latest edition of IMMIGRATION NEWS and to the new subscribers. This free service is brought to you by Australian Immigration Law Services. You can subscribe using the link on the right hand side or by visiting our website. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to any of your friends.


In this edition we cover the overcrowding crisis that in Sydney can make make many shared room accommodation in inner Sydney a potential death trap.


The overcrowded death traps       


 By Tanaya Das  


As a student or a traveller walking about in Sydney, one has definitely seen little notices fluttering all over the city stuck to lampposts, advertising rooms to let.


Websites like Gumtree and Flatmate finders are full of ads for lodgings offered for sub-lease all this is not surprising considering Sydney is a thriving city and with the yearly intake of students going up every year a booming rental market is not such a surprise.


What is surprising is the ads almost always are for rooms to share, not with another person but with another bunch of people.


Bandana, an ex-student from Nepal says "All over the city and across the inner-city suburbs, I've stayed in flats which were no better than slums with people just packed in and living in unsanitary conditions. All these high-rises are full of flats that stuff people in without any regard for safety and laws"


Student housing shortage is so acute in the Sydney CBD that there are students living in the city in extremely overcrowded housing situations that are not only illegal but also raise alarming health and hygiene risks and are a fire hazard.


"I lived in a three bedroom apartment at Regis Tower on Castlereagh Street with fifteen people, two bathrooms and with seven to eight people sharing a single bathroom." Says Thomas a pass-out from the UTS Graduate School of business.


Chris Harris (city of Sydney councillor 2004-2012) in an earlier interview to me had said, "The City of Sydney has a policy that restricts the number of people in an apartment to two people per room. It is clear anecdotallythis policy is being widely ignored."


The startling discovery isn't the fact that there is a deviation from the standard but that overcrowding is the standard.


The City Council did give rangers greater powers to carry out surprise inspections of rental units in a bid to stamp out overcrowding caused by the rental crisis towards the end of 2008 but nothing ever came out of it. 

When asked about this Cr Harris had explained,


"Absent some precise data it is my view that the city is not devoting a lot of resources to policing this policy rather it responds to individual complaints. In addition there is a problem of enforcement. City rangers can knock on the door of an apartment but they do not have the power of police so they can't arrest someone or even require a person to divulge his/her name."


"These houses are worse than slums, I went to look at an apartment in the World Tower and there were five students crammed into a tiny one bedroom apartment and I currently spend $180 per week to live in a broom closet" says Michala a traveller from Italy.

Ned Cutcher Policy Officer Tenants Union of NSW has said "We are aware of these kinds of situations, we have been made aware by the tenant advocates in Sydney that houses that accommodate far more people than they are supposed to are one of the major problems facing the city right now, the tenants Share accomodation 2union doesn't support this."


When asked about who he thinks live in these sort of dodgy houses Mr. Cutcher had replied "They are getting away with this by targeting international students, people who are less likely to raise their concerns with anyone that can actually do something. They are intentionally targeting a group that is seen as a bit of a cash cow" He added that "The state government convened a ministerial task force to look into international students and the tenants union has made a contribution to that; I am not aware of the city council having done anything to address the situation"


According to Cr Harris "The broader issue is the negligence of successive state governments to build more social housing and affordable housing and the unwillingness to provide other than a 'market' solution.
At the Federal level it is even worse because successive governments have provided subsidies to encourage home ownership and all that has really done is keeping the price of housing at inflated levels to the point where Australia has one of the most unaffordable housing and rental housing markets in the world."
The author of this story Tanaya Das is a former international student who did her post graduate studies in journalism from UTS. She has written many stories in the past for Immigration News covering the collapse of some of Australia's notorious business colleges. She has also worked as a researcher for programs aired on ABC and SBS and as an Online content Editor for Thomson Reuters.
Archives, some light reading

Bored? Nothing to do in the dead of night when you can`t sleep?


Try one of our historical newsletters to read, that will do the trick.


For our older newsletters they can be found on our web site through the following link;


For the recent ones using the new newsletter format, they can be found here







If you would like to join the other 10,500+ subscribers then click on this link to subscribe to our newsletter 

or the link on the right above the Editorial.

Kind regards,


Karl Konrad
Managing Director


Jee Eun HAN, Executive Manager     

Australian Immigration Law Services

MARN: 9904238, 0850073 

AILS stuff photo
 At Australian Immigration Law Services (AILS), we offer professional advice and practical solutions to all migration matters. Our team of licensed agents and consultants specialise in various areas of immigration law, such as skilled migration, business, family, and reviews.










One has to wonder if overseas education agents warn students who are about to come and study in Australia what the real costs of accommodation can be like, especially in Sydney.


Overall if someone wants to share a  room to live in, who cares, this is not a nanny state. The real concern however is for fire safety.


It is not uncommon for a landlords to erect partitioning to make a large bedroom into two, or even a lounge room into two bedrooms. These rooms most likely do not conform to building and fire safety standards. International students, none the wiser, can find themselves living in a death trap.


On top of this locks are fitted to these internal doors which can block someone from the only escape exit they might have in the event of a fire. 


To many this also may not sound like a big deal but when you are faced with a smoke filled room fighting for breath you may only have seconds to find a safe pathway. A locked door can become a death sentence without the tools or the energy to break your way through it.


I'm fortunate to have done some emergency services training in a smoke filled building and I can tell you, even wearing a breathing apparatus, a smoke filled zero viability environment can be as scary as hell.


We encourage students to think of more of their long term lives and the enjoyment this will still bring to you, rather than choosing unsafe crowded accommodation to save some money.



Karl Konrad

Managing Director 

Karl Konrad










Han Photo with Jacket
Executive Manager
Jee Eun Han





Australian Immigration Law Services  

phone: 61 2 92791991 | fax: 61 2 9279 1994
email: | website: 


 Level 13, 37 York Street Sydney NSW 2000

Disclaimer and Copyright

IMMIGRATION NEWS is intended to provide general information on migration issues and does not constitute legal advice and no responsibility is accepted by Australian Immigration Law Services (AILS) for the accuracy of material appearing in IMMIGRATION NEWS.


People seeking advice on migration law should seek advice from a registered migration agent
 and you should be aware that the law can change tomorrow without notice so you have the responsibility to keep up to date.
 The copyright of IMMIGRATION NEWS belongs to Australian Immigration Law Services (AILS) and no part of IMMIGRATION NEWS is to be reproduced by any means without the written consent of AILS. Australian Immigration Law Services is a trading name licensed to AILS INTERNATIONAL PTY LTD