The Registered Accommodation Association of Victoria has compiled a list of the most common questions about owning or managing a rooming house. If you would like further information about the rights and responsibilities of rooming house operators and residents, please feel free to contact RAAV.
- What is a rooming house?
A rooming house is a building in which rooms are available to rent to a total of four or more people. Residents have exclusive possession of their own room and the right to share common facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and lounge rooms with other residents.
The Building regulations 2006 distinguish between 'small' rooming houses (class 1b) and 'large' rooming houses (class 3). Class 1b rooming houses have up to 12 occupants and a total floor space of not more than 300 square metres. Class 3 rooming houses have more than 12 occupants and a floor space of more than 300 square metres.
Knowing the difference between class 1b and class 3 rooming houses is important as it affects your obligations, for example fire safety standards.
- Do I have to be licensed to operate a rooming house?
Yes. From August 24 2017, all rooming house operators must be licensed. If you fail to obtain a license and continue to operate, you will be committing an offence punishable by a heavy fine and/or a jail sentence.
- How do I find information about the new rooming house operators licensing scheme?
For more information about the new licensing requirements, visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
- Why should I implement best practice?
Running a better rooming house: A best practice hand book for operators has many examples of the benefits of adopting best practice in rooming houses which include:
- improving the image of your property;
- improving the health and wellbeing of your residents;
- increasing your profits;
- setting you apart from rooming house operators who do not use best practice principles.
- Do I need to register my property?
If you provide prescribed accommodation as defined by the Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009, you are required to register with your local council. Generally providing accommodation to 4 or more unrelated persons will require you to be registered.
The benefits of registering your rooming house include:
- proof that you are a licensed rooming house operator
- proof that you are complying with the law and that your performance is monitored regularly by the local council;
- access to benefits such as land tax exemptions (if eligible);
- improving the public image of your rooming house;
- giving you status in any rooming house hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
Contact RAAV if you are unsure or would like assistance with the process.
- Why are some rooming houses not registered?
It is generally easy for rooming houses to comply with the legislative requirements to become registered but some rooming houses avoid registration due to:
- Lack of knowledge about registering;
- Don't realize that they must be compliant if not already registered;
- The initial costs of complying;
- A different culture especially with ethnic rooming house operators:
- Where can I find the relevant legislation governing rooming houses?
- How can I handle disputes with residents?
If you have a problem with a resident, try to resolve it quickly. The longer a dispute goes on without being settled, the more likely other residents will become involved. Good practice for handling disputes includes:
- not becoming personally involved;
- listening carefully to the resident's complaint;
- identifying and calling upon any independent witnesses to a dispute;
- taking action in accordance with the house rules and legislation;
- attempting mediation through Consumer Affairs Victoria if appropriate ;
- rescheduling the meeting to the next day if the resident is affected by drugs or alcohol;
- having original paperwork with reasonable and enforceable house rules.
Rooming house operators can take a free training course in managing disputes with the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria. The centre can also settle disputes between residents.
Contact the Dispute Settlement Centre
Tel: 03 9603 8370
Tel: 1800 658 528 (toll free regional callers).
- What are the responsibilities of rooming house operators and residents?
Rooming house operators and residents both have rights and obligations during the period of occupancy as laid down in the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). The booklet 'Rooming Houses: A guide for residents and operators' recently released by Consumer Affairs Victoria explains what residents and operators must do to follow Victoria's rooming house laws including:
- Running hot water and clean drinking water, lighting, electricity and working smoke alarms
- 24-hour access to a shared bathroom, toilet, kitchen
- Be safe and secure
- Privacy - the rooming house operators/manager must give 24 hours written notice before entering a room
- A reasonable home, where the roof does not leak and the toilet is not blocked
- Stay - you cannot be evicted without a 'Notice to Vacate'.
- Residents to keep their room and any shared areas clean and tidy
- Let other residents live in peace, quiet and privacy
- Pay rent on time
- Respect the safety of others and never threaten or put other residents in danger
- Ask the manager for permission before they let someone move into their room
- Give the manager at least two business days notice before leaving the rooming house
- Is it costly to become a RAAV member?
RAAV's annual membership fee is an economical $140 plus GST. This provides you with regular eNewsletters, access to RAAV's website, invitation to forums and information sessions, networking to exchange up to date information on rooming house operations; on-line training modules and other information.
Your membership also helps in keeping RAAV active in representing the views of rooming house operators when CAV is planning any changes to legislation or standards.
See RAAV's membership page for more details.
- How do I become a member of RAAV?
Full membership is open to owners and operators of Registered Accommodation in Victoria, Government agencies and corporate organizations. Membership is $120 plus GST per year and there is no joining fee.
Associate membership is also available which does not include voting rights, and is available for allied organisations and persons considering starting up a rooming house.