NEWCASTLE City Council has taken boarding house operator Aaron Buman to court after allegedly finding a caretaker and one or two other people in his Carrington boarding house a week after it was shut down over fire safety concerns in October.
The council charged the company owning the boarding house with breaching the terms of a development control order and the case is set down for Newcastle Local Court on Friday.
The court case is the latest round in a battle between Mr Buman and the council, with the council adamant there was a grave fire risk at the Carrington boarding house and another at Mayfield, and Mr Buman accusing the council of running a vendetta against him.
As the Newcastle Herald has reported, the council raided the boarding houses on September 19 and issued orders giving residents a fortnight to move out over what it described as “extreme” fire risks at the properties.
Mr Buman said on Wednesday that the fears expressed by his former tenants were justified, because many of them had ended up homeless as a result of the closures, while others had lost jobs and gone back on to the drink and drugs they had escaped at the Carrington boarding house, especially, which was “dry”.
“It’s been a nightmare for them,” Mr Buman said. “They said they would house everyone but there were never enough rooms around town to make it work.”
One former resident told the Herald he had ended up back at the Mater’s mental health unit last month, with a diagnosis that said “suicidal . . . in the context of homelessness” after being “homeless” for three weeks. He had been put up at an Ibis motel at Wallsend for a few nights and had secured three nights at a motel at Motto Farm, paid for by the housing department, but he was on his own again from Friday.
Mr Buman and the council blame each other for the homelessness, with the council accusing Mr Buman of making it difficult for the authorities to access the men, which he denies.
Council chief executive Jeremy Bath said Mr Buman promised to provide contact details of his residents but did not, while Mr Buman said most did not want to give their details, knowing there was “no accommodation for them anyway”.
He denied a council claim that residents were scared to seek help because of “repercussions from others”.