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Ending a rooming house residency

Information about how rooming house owners and residents can end a residency in a rooming house.

There are several different ways that a rooming house residency agreement ends:

  • following a notice to vacate by rooming house operator to resident
  • following a notice of intention to vacate by rooming house resident to operator
  • following a possession order made by VCAT
  • by abandonment
  • if rooming house destroyed.

See Part 3, Division 10—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

What does not end a rooming house residency

It does not end just because:

  • the operator applies for a licence to operate the rooming house and is refused
  • the rooming house operating licence expires, or
  • VCAT cancels an operator's licence.

See s. 142Q—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Offence to force a resident out

A residency right to live in a room does not end when a person tries to get rid of them by:

  • requiring, forcing or attempting to require or force them out of their room
  • taking possession, or trying to take possession of a room
  • interfering with a resident's peace and comfort
  • withdrawing services or facilities that are needed
  • preventing resident from using any facilities
  • doing anything else that is intended to cause a resident to abandon their room.

Penalty

The maximum penalty for attempting to force a resident out is:

  • 150 penalty units for a person
  • 750 penalty units for a body corporate (company).

See s. 142R—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

If a resident wants to leave

The amount of notice a resident needs to give depends on whether they have entered into a fixed term rooming house agreement. The resident needs to give 14-days' notice if they have a fixed term agreement.

If not on a fixed term agreement, the resident must give the operator at least 2 days’ notice.

Notice can be given verbally or in writing. It is always best to do this in writing so that there is evidence that this has been done.

The resident can change their mind and notify the operator. They can do this orally or in writing.

See ss. 142W, 142S, 142ZV(3)—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Leaving without notice

If a resident leaves without giving notice they may be required to pay additional rent for the 2 days after they leave, or until another resident moves in, whichever is less.

A resident on a fixed term agreement has to pay either 14 days' rent or rent until another person moves in, whichever is less.

Penalty for failing to pay

The maximum penalty for skipping off without paying the rent owed is 25 penalty units.

See s. 142X—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Leaving early

If, after giving a notice of intention to vacate, the rooming house resident leaves early, they must pay the rooming house operator rent from the day they left until the day stated on the notice. For example, if a person on a fixed term agreement gave the minimum notice, which is 14 days', and left after 7 days, they must pay 7 days' rent.

See s. 142Y—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Abandonment

If the rooming house resident skipped off without letting the operator know, the operator must apply to VCAT seeking an order declaring that the resident has abandoned the room. This application must be heard within 5 days' of the application being made. If VCAT makes the order, the resident is deemed to have abandoned the rooming house on a day specified by VCAT.

See s. 142Z—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

In situations of violence

A person who is living in a rooming house (whether their name is on the agreement or not) can seek to end or change a fixed term rooming house agreement, where they:

  • are a protected person under a personal safety intervention order,
  • have been subjected to family violence

An application may be made on behalf of a child, where the applicant is living in the rooming house.

VCAT may make an order that requires the rooming house operator to terminate the existing rooming house agreement or terminate the agreement and enter into a new agreement with the applicant and other people referred to in the application.

VCAT may determine the liability of the parties under the agreement regarding, damage, unpaid rent, unpaid utility services and bond.

These provisions are essentially the same as those for renters.

See ss. 142S, 142T, 142U—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Residential tenancy—Protections from violence when renting.

If operator or mortgagee wants resident to leave

When a rooming house operator wants a resident to leave they must issue a notice to vacate in the proper form to the resident. The amount of notice that needs to be given depends on the reason for giving the notice. The parties may agree to a different date to the one specified in the agreement where the notice relates to end of fixed term agreement, sale or repair or demolition of the rooming house.

See ss. 142ZA, 142ZJ, 142ZK—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Immediate notice to vacate

A rooming house operator may give a resident a ‘Notice to vacate’ their room immediately if the resident (or their visitor):

  • causes serious damage to any part of the rooming house
  • causes danger to any other people or property in the rooming house
  • interrupts the quiet enjoyment of the rooming house by other residents.

The owner may also temporarily suspend a rooming house resident's residency.

Leave within 2 days

An owner may give a resident a ‘Notice to vacate’ with 2 days to leave if the resident:

  • fails to comply with a VCAT order
  • breaches a duty requirement and has done so at least twice before
  • is using the room for illegal purposes
  • is at least 7 days behind in rent.

See ss. 142ZB, 142ZC, 142ZE, 142ZF, 142ZG, 142ZH—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Resident making threats or intimidation

A rooming house operator may give a resident a 14-day notice to vacate if the resident has seriously threatened or intimidated a rooming house operator, their agent, a contractor or employee of the operator or agent.

See s. 142ZA—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Resident with fixed term agreement

A rooming house operator under a fixed term agreement may give the resident a notice to vacate before the end of the term of the agreement with a termination date that is on or after the date on which the fixed term agreement ends. The minimum notice period is 28 days.

See s. 142ZA—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Rooming house to be sold, demolished or repaired

A rooming house operator must give a resident a 60 day notice to vacate where the property is to be:

  • sold
  • repaired, or
  • demolished.

The operator must first have obtained all of the necessary permits and consents needed to carry out the work before giving the notice. The work must not be able to be properly carried out unless the room is vacated. If there is another vacant room that is not going to be affected by the repairs, the rooming house resident must be offered that room. If the resident refuses the offer, then a notice to vacate may be given.

If the contract of sale requires conditions to be met before sale, the operator must wait until within 14 days of these conditions being met before issuing the notice. For example, the house may be sold subject to damp proofing being carried out by the vendor. Notice cannot be given until just under 2 weeks before the damp proofing is complete.

The operator must provide documentary evidence if either of these notices are to be given.

The operator must not rent a room vacated following a notice to vacate because of repair or demolition, an operator is prohibited from renting out a room for 6 months after the room is vacated.

Penalty

The maximum penalty for renting out a room earlier than this is:

  • 150 penalty units for a person
  • 750 penalty units for a body corporate.

Exceptions

This does not apply if VCAT orders that room may be rented, or the repairs have been completed.

See ss. 142ZK, 142ZL, 142ZT—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Notice by owner (who is not the rooming house operator)

If the owner wants to terminate the lease of the operator (or if the operator abandons their lease), the owner must give a notice to vacate of at least 45 days notice to residents. They must make reasonable attempts to find the names of all residents living at the rooming house. They may issue a notice by sticking it on the resident's doors.

The residents must continue to pay rent to the owner on the same terms and conditions as they previously paid to the operator.

See s. 142ZO—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Notice by mortgagee

A mortgagee may give a resident a notice to vacate. This notice period must be for a minimum of 60 days.

See s. 142ZP—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Notice because of refusal to licence or relicence an operator. The minimum notice period for this is 120 days.

See s. 142ZP—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Service of notice to vacate

The notice to vacate must be in a prescribed form, addressed to the resident, signed by the person fiving the notice or that person's agent. It must specify the reason for the notice and must provide documentary evidence where required.

The requirements for service are the same as for renters.

See s. 142ZT, 506—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Challenging the notice to vacate

Family violence

A rooming house resident may apply to VCAT to challenge the notice to vacate where the breach of duty was caused by the act of a person who has subjected the person to family or personal violence.

See s. 142ZZ—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Challenging the validity of the notice

If notice to vacate issued on the grounds that place is to be sold, demolished or repaired, the rooming house resident may challenge this notice if the required evidence is not provided with the notice.

The rooming house resident has 30 days to challenge the notice from the day after the notice is given.

See ss. 142ZJ, 142ZK, 142ZT, 142ZX—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

How to avoid eviction when rent is overdue

From 29 March 2021, there are better protections for renters and residents. Possession orders are now seen as a last resort. A person can be given 4 notices to vacate within a year. If they pay the rent owed before the termination date, the notice has no effect. This is sometime called 4 strikes.

If unable to pay by termination date, VCAT may adjourn the matter and send the renter/resident off to get a financial report from a financial counsellor. VCAT may then make a repayment plan.

If a fifth notice to vacate is issued, VCAT may make a possession order if it is reasonable and proportionate to do so.

See Residential tenancy—Eviction for overdue rent.

What can the resident do?

Once a resident has received a notice to vacate they can:

  • move out
  • challenge the notice if they believe it was not given properly or they disagree with the reason it was given
  • ask for more time before they have to move out.

See s. 323—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Operator or must apply for a possession order

If the rooming house resident does not leave at the end of the notice period after being issued with a notice to vacate, the rooming house operator has to apply for a possession order to have the resident evicted. The owner is not allowed to force the resident out of the house themselves.

The owner can apply for a possession order after the notice to vacate has been given and up to 30 days after the date written on the notice to vacate.

See ss. 323, 323A, 326—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Notice to leave—violence or a safety risk

A rooming house owner can give a resident (or their visitor) a ‘Notice to leave’ if they are violent or if the owner feels that the safety of people within the rooming house is in danger.

It is an offence to serve a notice to leave if there are insufficient grounds or unsubstantiated reasons.

Once a notice to leave has been issued, the resident or visitor must leave the rooming house immediately and is suspended from returning for 2 business days. They can be fined if they do not leave the rooming house immediately or if they return during the suspension period.

The owner can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal during the suspension period to have the resident permanently evicted.

The resident must continue to pay rent while they are suspended. However, if the tribunal decides the resident should not have been suspended, the resident must be let back into the rooming house and may be refunded the rent or hire charges they paid for the days they were suspended.

See s. 368—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Personal items

If personal documents have been left behind, the rooming house owner must take reasonable care of the documents for 90 days. The operator can remove the documents from the room, but cannot destroy or dispose of them. Other items specified in the regulations must also be kept. These are prescription medications, medals, labelled urns containing human remains, specialist medical devices, equipment and goods including prostheses.

If other belongings are left behind, operator must take reasonable care for 14 days, and try to notify the former resident of where and when they can collect the goods.

This does not apply to goods that are of no monetary value, are perishable (such as food) or are dangerous. The operator may remove, destroy or dispose of these items.

See Part 9 Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Uncollected goods—Goods left behind by renters or residents.

More information

Legislation

Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)

  • Part 3, Div 10, Subdivision 1—when does a residency right end
    • s. 142M—termination after notice
    • s. 142N—termination by VCAT
    • s. 142O—termination by abandonment
    • s. 142P—termination if rooming house destroyed
    • s. 142Q—lack of licence does not end residency
    • s. 142R—offence to try to remove resident
  • Part 3 Div. 10 subdivision 3—Termination or new agreement because of family or personal violence
    • s. 142S—application for termination or new agreement because of violence
    • s. 142T—VCAT orders
    • s. 142U—VCAT may decide parties' liability under terminated agreement
    • s. 142U—protection from cross-examination for person subject to violence or protected person under personal safety intevention order
  • Part 3 Div. 10 subdivision 3—notice or abandonment by resident
    • s. 142W—notice of intention to vacate room
    • s. 142X—rent payable on termination without notice
    • s. 142Y—rent payable if room vacated early
    • s. 142Z—order by abandonment
  • Part 3 Div. 10 subdivision 4—notice by rooming house operator or rooming house mortgagee
    • s. 142ZA—end of fixed term rooming house agreement
    • s. 142ZB—damage
    • s. 142ZC—danger
    • s. 142ZD—threats and intimidation
    • s. 142ZE—disruption
    • s. 142ZF—non-payment of rent
    • s. 142ZG—failure of resident to comply with VCAT order
    • s. 142ZH—successive breaches by resident
    • s. 142ZI—use of room for illegal purpose
    • s. 142ZJ—sale of rooming house
    • s. 142ZK—repairs or demolition
    • s. 142ZL—prohibition on renting after notice
    • s. 142ZM—when notice has no effect
    • s. 142ZO—notice by owner of building or other person hwo is not rooming house operator
    • s. 142ZP—notice by mortgagee of rooming house
    • s. 142ZQ—notice to vacate by VCAT
    • s. 142ZR—notice to vacate due to refusal of licence to operator
  • Part 3 Div. 10 subdivision 5—notices under this division
    • s. 142ZS—form of notice of intention to vacate
    • s. 142ZT—form of notice to vacate
    • s. 142ZU—what if 2 ore more notices can be served?
    • s. 142ZV—withdrawal of notice
  • Part 3 Div. 10 subdivision 6—can a notice to vacate be challenged?
    • s. 142ZX—resident may apply to VCAT
    • s. 142ZY—orders VCAT can make
    • s. 142ZZ—challenges on grounds of violence
    • s. 142ZZA—orders VCAT can make
  • Part 9—Goods left behind by renters and residents

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

Consumer Affairs Victoria

This site has infromation about rooming houses for residents and rooming house operators.

See Consumer Affairs Victoria—Rights and duties of a rooming house resident.

There are also links to forms and other notices.

See particularly:

  • Notice to vacate to resident/s of a rooming house
  • Notice to leave managed premises or theiir visitor
  • Notice of intention to vacate room

In Consumer Affairs Victoria—Forms and publications.

Tenants Victoria

This site has information and a booklet, ‘Rooming house resident’s handbook’, which provides information and tips for rooming house residents.

See Tenants Victoria—Rooming houses(opens in a new window).

Updated