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Differences between renters and rooming house residents

Information about the different rights that a tenant has when compared to a resident in a rooming house.

A rooming house operator gives a residence right to a rooming house resident. This may either be for exclusive occupancy or shared occupancy of a room. The right gives the resident the right to live in the room they occupy and to use the facilities of the rooming house.

From 29 March 2021, a rooming house operator and a rooming house resident may make a fixed term agreement.

If a rooming house resident and a rooming house operator decide to sign a lease, they will be covered under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) as a renter and not a rooming house resident. If this happens different laws apply under the Act.

See s. 92, 92A, 92B, 94—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

The main differences that apply are as follows:

Amount of bond

The maximum amount of bond that a rooming house resident can be charged is the equivalent of 14 days' rent unless they have a fixed term rooming house agreement.

If the resident has a fixed term agreement, the rooming house operator may ask for a bond that is equivalent of 28 days.

The process for getting the bond back is the same as for residential renters.

See Bonds for rooming house residents.

Utilities

A rooming house resident cannot be charged for utilities, such as gas and electricity, unless the room is metered separately. The rooming house operator will have to cover the cost of these in the rent they charge. The same applies to renters, however almost all rental properties have separate meters.

See s. 108—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Rent in advance

A rooming house resident can be required to pay up to 14 days' rent in advance. A renter can be required to pay rent one month in advance, or more depending on the value of the property.

See Rent at a rooming house.

Rent overdue

A rooming house operator can send a resident a 2-day notice to vacate if their rent is overdue by 7 days. A landlord can give a resident a 7-day notice to vacate if their rent is overdue by 14 days.

See Ending a rooming house residency.

Minimum standards

A rooming house operator must comply with minimum standards for their rooming houses. These standards are designed to protect a rooming house resident's privacy, security, amenity and safety.

From 29 March 2021 there are minimum standards for renters. These are different to minimum standards for rooming houses and only apply to rental agreements made on or after this date.

See Minimum standards for rooming houses and Owners corporations.

Inspections

The rooming house operator must give a resident 48 hours' notice before inspecting a resident's room. They can inspect no more than once every 4 weeks.

Generally, a rental provider may only inspect a property once every 6 months.

See s. 137—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Rules for residents

Rooming house residents must comply with rooming house rules. Renters who live in a place where there are flats or town houses have to comply with the rules of the Owner's corporation for that building.

The rooming house operator must display a list of the rights and duties, and also a copy of the house rules in the resident's room.

See Rights and responsibilities in a rooming house.

No right to keep pets

Rooming house residents do not have the same rights to keep pets (with the exception of assistance animals) . They may ask the rooming house operator for permission, but the operator may refuse without having to apply to VCAT. Note that the provisions in the Act that deals with pets, specifically mention 'renters'.

If a rooming house resident may be given a breach of duty notice if they keep a pet without consent.

See s. 117, Part 2, Division 5B—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Leaving

A rooming house resident has to give 2 days' notice before they leave a rooming house. This need not be in writing unless unless this has been agreed.

If the resident has signed a fixed term rooming house agreement, they must give the rooming house operator at least 14 days' notice of their intention to vacate.

Unlike a renter, a rooming house resident cannot be held liable if they leave a fixed term early. They will, have to pay the rooming house operator the balance of the 14 days' rent they owe if they leave before the end of the 14 day notice period.

A renter has to give at least 28 days' notice before they leave. If the renter is on a fixed term lease they cannot leave until the lease expires without being penalised, or unless VCAT makes an order reducing the term of the agreement.

See Ending a rooming house residency.

No assignment

Unlike rental agreements, a rooming house resident is not permitted to assign their room to another person.

See ss. 81, 93—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)

  • Part 1, Division 2, Subdivision 1—Application to rental agreements
  • Part 1, Division 2, Subdivision 2—Application to rooming houses
  • Part 3—Rooming houses—Residency Rights and Duties
  • s. 93—rights confrerred on a resident of a rooming house cannot be assigned or transferred
  • s. 108—separately metered rooms
  • s. 117—resident must not keep pet without consent
  • s. 137—grounds for entry of a room

See Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

VLA Learning Hub

Renting, eviction and homeless services

This Legal Practice Essential session has an e-learning module and powerpoint. VLA staff will have to log into the learning hub to access this training. After logging in you will be directed to the relevant page.

See 3.12 in LPE Renting, eviction and homeless services.

Access for Community leg al centres

This lecture can be viewed online by Community Legal Centre staff and volunteers. To gain access staff will need to contact the Professional Legal Education team and ask for the link and password. Lecture materials can also be provided on request.

Please email ple@vla.vic.gov.au

Consumer Affairs Victoria

The Residential Tenancies Act changed on 29 March 2021. Some of these changes apply only to rooming houses.

See 'Reforms unique to rooming houses' in Consumer Affairs Victoria—Guide to rental law changes in Victoria(opens in a new window).

For a summary of the other tenancy changes see Key changes to residential tenancy in 2021.

Updated