Allegedly overcrowded conditions at the infamous Lacrosse building are set to be investigated following reports that apartments were being crammed with half a dozen people in an apparent breach of the occupancy permit.

News Corporation has reported that Melbourne City Council is set to investigate reports of overcrowded conditions in the building, which created headlines in late 2014 as flames ripped up the side of the building which was later found to contain cladding which was combustible and which did not meet the requirements of the National Construction Code for which it was used.

Whilst the current occupancy permit specifies a maximum of 36 occupants per floor (an average of 2.4 per apartment), The Australian has reported the case of 28-year-old Columbian student Diego Rey, who claims to be sharing a two-bedroom apartment with five others.

Both the Municipal Fire Brigade and the City of Melbourne building surveyor have raised concerns about overcrowding in the block.

Following the Lacrosse fires in 2014, it emerged that some apartments were being used as multiple accommodation units on a commercials basis and in some cases containing between six and eight beds – some let out on short term leases via Airbnb and similar web sites.

In the Lacrosse case, the MBF in its report on the incident said this potentially led to two problems.

First, overcrowding led to a greater level of storage in relation to personal belongings within the apartment and on the apartment balcony – a factor it said created a higher fuel load which enabled a more intense fire to develop.

In addition, the high occupancy rate led to the erection of temporary structures assembled around beds to create privacy, which along with furnishings and other contents may impede clear egress from the apartment.

As all this is going on, apartment owners have until July 2018 to remove the cladding and are in the process of suing builder LU Simon for $16 million to cover the cost.

Whilst the 2014 fire was started by a cigarette on a balcony, the MFB found that the combustible cladding contributed toward its spread.

  • So now we are going to have the Occupancy Police come and knock on doors everyday and night doing a head count. So what about when you entertain some friends for a special dinner, do you have to put out public notices on the floor to make sure that some people dont come home until after your party has finished. Yes there is design criteria for everything in this world, except common sense. Occupancy is an issue but the core problem is that Developers and Builders are all cutting each others throats to win the build. In the process they do what they have done here, screw everyone in the process. How about having a Regulator who does their job and regulates. Why do we have non conforming materials in our market. Why are wholesalers and retailers allowed to sell such materials. Why are we still getting ASBESTOS still coming into our markets when we all know it is banned. When you are led by fools and incompetence whyare we surprised. Public Servants who are effectively stealing their wages because they sure as hell arent earning them. This is another distraction from the fact. The Lacrosse Building didnt comply. Start enforcing the law instead of muddying the waters and penalise the Builder and the Surveyor who signed off on this. start making examples and everyone will quickly return to the old way of doing it right. At least London is owning up to their mistakes all be it too late for the unfortunate people who lost their lives as well as the ones that are scarred for life.

  • These are very worrying developments.

    Not to take away from the impact of the combustible cladding and builder LU Simon's comical ongoing denials about this, but overcrowding creates a bigger fuel load and means more people have to get out.

    These trends we are hearing about overcrowding are very worrying.

  • Now that Murray Smith is at the helm of the VBA after the Minister has showed Prue the door we will see more and more deflecting of blame. Simply put, the Lacrosse Building was not compliant. If the former Fire Chief Peter Rau wont let his kids in the Lacrosse building why is it that the VBA must continue to deny and keep holding more and more investigations. Clements Stone town Planners head Bill" the ex Chairman" of the VBA KUSZNIRCZUK even admitted on 3aw that this building is not safe. Stop deflecting blame, just fix this building and the other 186. Forget about lining the pockets of KUSZNIRCZUKand others with enquiries and investigations, just do your job VBA.