It is important you know what type of rental arrangement you are in, as this determines your legal rights and responsibilities.
On this page:
Tenancy agreement for rented premises
A tenancy agreement, or lease, is an agreement where a landlord lets premises out for residential purposes to a tenant.
For more information, view our Beginning a lease or residency page.
A tenant may rent a home from a landlord, or sub-let it from another tenant living in the house.
For more information about sub-letting, view our page Sharing in a tenancy agreement.
Residency in a rooming house
A rooming house resident is a person who rents a room in a rooming house as their only or main residence. A resident does not need to have a tenancy agreement to live in a rooming house.
A rooming house is a building where:
- one or more rooms is available for rent, and
- the total number of people who may occupy those rooms is four or more.
The Minister for Housing can also declare a property as a rooming house.
Also, in most rooming houses:
- residents share bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and other common areas
- the owner and their family do not generally live on the premises, and
- separate rental agreements may exist for different residents.
For more information, view our Beginning a lease or residency page
Sharing a room
A rooming house resident can have:
- an ‘exclusive room right’, where they occupy the room alone or with people they choose to share it with
- a ‘shared room right’, where the rooming house owner can choose the other occupants of the room.
For more information, view our Sharing in a rooming house page and Increasing capacity in a room page.
Residency in a caravan park
There are laws around agreements between caravan park owners and residents who hire or own the caravans they live in. These laws also regulate agreements between park owners and residents who rent movable dwellings and other types of dwellings in a caravan park, residential park, or other park.
A person living in a caravan in a caravan park is a resident when they have:
- obtained written permission from the caravan park owner to live at the caravan park, or
- lived in the caravan park for at least 60 days without a break.
Someone is not a caravan park resident if they:
- are staying in a caravan while on holiday
- own a caravan in a caravan park but live somewhere else, or
- have not signed a written agreement with the caravan park owner and have not lived in the caravan park for at least 60 days without a break.
For more information, view our Beginning a lease or residency page
Site agreement (owning the movable dwelling, renting the land)
Residential tenancy laws regulate site agreements between residents who own their movable dwelling but rent the underlying land (referred to as ‘site tenants’ in the law), and site owners (usually but not always residential park owners) who rent out such sites.
If such a site is located in a caravan park, the laws relating to site tenants and site agreements (rather than those relating to caravan park residents and residency agreements) apply to that site.
The law relating to site agreements applies where a dwelling is:
- fully or partially owned by a site tenant
- designed, built or manufactured to be transported for use as a residence, (not including a typical caravan)
- the site tenant’s main home (not a holiday home), and
- in a park on a rented site (not in a park on Crown land).
A person is not a site tenant if they:
- rent both the dwelling and the land
- only use the site for holidays
- are renting the site under an employment agreement, or
- live in a park on Crown land.
For more information, download a copy of our Checklist: signing a site agreement (Word, 118KB).
Dwelling purchase agreements
Purchasers of movable dwellings, in some cases, have the right to cancel purchase agreements for those dwellings. This right applies where a person (or their agent) purchases the movable dwelling from a:
- site owner
- site owner acting on someone else’s behalf
- site owner’s agent, or
- party related to the site owner (such as a relative or related company).
If a person purchases a dwelling from one of the above, they can cancel the purchase agreement if the site owner gives them a related site agreement:
- to consider for 20 days, but they decide not to sign it, or
- which they sign but later decide to cancel using their cooling-off rights.
A related site agreement is an agreement for a site on which the dwelling purchased is currently located, or is intended to be located. If a person is given a site agreement to consider for 20 days and decides not to sign it, they can also cancel the dwelling purchase agreement, before the 20 days are over.
If a person signs the site agreement and decides to cancel within the five business-day cooling-off period, they can cancel the purchase agreement at the same time. To cancel a purchase agreement, a person must give written notice to the person they bought the dwelling from.
Getting money back when cancelling a purchase agreement
If a person cancels the purchase agreement, they are treated as though they never signed it in the first place. The person gets back any money they paid for the movable dwelling, including the deposit.
If a person cannot negotiate the return of their money, they can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an order to get it repaid. However, if they have damaged the dwelling, VCAT can order the person to pay compensation to the site owner or related party.
When a person cannot cancel a purchase agreement
A person may only cancel a dwelling purchase agreement when they contract with a:
- site owner, their agent or a related party for a dwelling purchase agreement, and
- site owner for a site agreement.
A person cannot cancel a dwelling purchase agreement where they have purchased the dwelling from a current or previous park resident (unless that resident is an agent for, or related to, the site owner).
If a person buys a dwelling from a current or previous resident, they should seek independent legal advice on whether they have any other rights relating to the purchase agreement if they do not want to proceed with it.
In a boarding situation, a person rents a room in a home, and lives with the home owners.
The boarder and home owner have a private agreement, which covers the products and/or services the owner is to provide in exchange for rent. Such agreements do not fall under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act), but may fall under certain provisions of the Australian Consumer Law. For more information, view our Contracts page.
However, a boarder and home owner may sign a tenancy agreement for rented premises. In this case the boarder becomes a ‘tenant’ under the Act and the home owner a ‘landlord’. Each then has the same rights and duties under the Act as in other tenancy situations.
Holiday accommodation, such as hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts, are not classified as rental accommodation. Instead, they are classified as a service and regulated by the Australian Consumer Law.
For more information, view our Contracts page.
For information on commercial/retail leases, visit the Victorian Small Business Commissioner website.
Last updated: 22/05/2013