- increasing the frequency of electrical safety checks to be conducted by a licensed or registered electrician to every two years
- clarifying that an electronic key fob can be used to operate a lock on a door to a resident's room and an entrance to a rooming house
- requiring laundry facilities including a washing machine to be in good working order and be provided for every twelve residents
- the introduction of a standard for blind cord safety in rooming houses
- requiring rooming houses to be structurally sound, weatherproof and free from mould and dampness.
A rooming house is a property where four or more people can occupy the rented rooms, and each has their own residential agreement.
Rooming house operators must comply with minimum standards relating to privacy, security, safety and amenity.
The minimum standards apply to a rooming house and its rooms whether or not the resident has a rooming house agreement or an individual rental agreement.
On this page:
Residents’ rooms – minimum standards
In a resident’s room, the following standards must be met:
- any door used to enter or exit from a resident’s room must be fitted with a lock that is operated by a key from the outside, and can be unlocked from inside without a key.
- a key can include a device such as an electronic key fob and information used to operate a lock such as a personal identification number (PIN) code.
- a resident’s room must have at least two power outlets in working order, and from 26 February 2024, these power outlets must be freely available for use by the resident and are in addition to any other power outlets already used to power amenities by the rooming house operator. The installation of any power outlets must be done by a suitably licensed or qualified electrician.
- windows in a resident’s room must have a covering that provides privacy and can be opened and closed by the resident. In addition to this, and from 26 February 2025, a window in a resident’s room must be fitted with a window covering that also reasonably blocks light.
Bathrooms – minimum standards
A door to a shared bathroom or toilet:
- must be fitted with a privacy latch that can be securely latched from the inside without a key.
From 26 February 2024, a door to a shared bathroom or toilet:
- must be fitted with a bolt or catch that can be securely latched from the inside without a key. The bolt or catch must be installed by a suitably qualified person. If one cannot be installed, for example because the cost of installation would be higher than the average cost of installation in a similar class of building, or if the owners corporation prohibit installation of the bolt or catch, then the door must be fitted with a privacy latch which can be securely latched from inside without the use of a key.
For example, a cabin hook or similar does not meet the minimum standard.
From 26 February 2024, if the rooming house has a shower present:
- must be in good working order and must have a shower head with a 3-star water efficiency rating or higher. If one cannot be installed, for example because of the property’s age, then a shower head with a 1- or 2-star rating is acceptable
Kitchens – minimum standards
Each resident must have access to and use of food preparation facilities. These can be provided in the resident’s room or as a shared kitchen.
If these facilities are in a resident’s room, they must include a:
- food preparation area
- oven and cook-top in good working order
- refrigerator with at least 80 litres capacity
- cupboard with a minimum 0.1 cubic metres (100 litres) of storage capacity.
A shared kitchen must have a:
- food preparation area
- an oven and a cook-top with four burners in good working order for every 12 or fewer residents who do not have an oven or cook-top in their room
- refrigerator with at least 400 litres capacity
- a lockable cupboard for each resident, with a minimum 0.1 cubic metres (100 litres) of storage capacity.
From 26 February 2024, the above minimum standards will apply along with the below additional requirements:
- food preparation areas must be used solely for food preparation,
- additional resident who have not been provided a refrigerator in their room, based on the maximum number of residents that the rooming house can accommodate in a common area.
Dining facilities – minimum standards
In dining facilities in each resident’s room or a shared common area, there must be:
- Enough chairs to accommodate the maximum number of residents that can occupy a resident’s room. For example, if the room with the most occupants has three residents, the dining room must have three chairs.
- One or more tables that can comfortably fit this number of chairs. For example, a dining table can be a benchtop along as it large enough to accommodate the number of chairs required above, and is not a benchtop used for food preparation.
Shared laundries – minimum standards
Rooming house operators must provide shared laundry facilities that are in good working order for every 12 or fewer residents. There must be one set of the following communal laundry facilities:
- a wash trough or basin connected to a continuous and adequate supply of hot and cold water
- space with hot and cold water supply outlets suitable for a washing machine immediately next to the trough or basin
- a clothes line or other clothes drying facility.
From 26 February 2024, the rooming house operator must also provide one washing machine, that is in good working order, for every 12 or fewer residents.
General minimum standards
General standards include:
- an evacuation diagram that complies with section 3.5 and Appendix E of AS 3745 must be prominently displayed in each resident’s room and in all shared areas. Download an example evacuation diagram (Word, 592KB). You must ensure that your diagram is compliant.
- inside rooms, corridors and hallways must have a level of natural or artificial light appropriate to the function and use of the room.
- habitable rooms must have access to natural light during daylight hours, and artificial light during non-daylight hours, appropriate to the function and use of the room.
- habitable rooms, bathrooms, shower rooms, toilets and laundries must have ventilation that complies with the relevant Building Code of Australia (see section 18 of the Regulations).
- all gas installations, fixtures or fittings must be checked at least once every two years by a licensed gas fitter
- all electrical installations, fixtures and fittings provided by the rooming house operator must be checked at least once every two years by a licensed electrician
- all power outlets and electrical circuits must be connected to circuit breakers that comply with AS/NZS 3000 and switchboard-type residual current devices that comply with AS/NZS 3190, AS/NZS 61008.1 or AS/NZS 61009.1
- each external window that is can be opened must be able to be securely closed or opened without a key
- In addition to the above, from 26 February 2024, each external window that can be opened must also have a functioning latch, with or without a key, that secures the window against external entry.
- each rooming house entrance must have a lock operated by a key from outside and without a key from inside. A key can include a device such as an electronic key fob and information used to operate a lock such as a personal identification number (PIN) code.
- the main entry must have a window, peep-hole or intercom system, and a working external light that provides enough light during non-daylight hours to provide for safe access and screening visitors to the rooming house.
- A rooming house must be structurally sound and weatherproof.
- A rooming house must also be free from mould and damp caused by or related to the building structure.
From 26 February 2024, general minimum standards for rooming houses must also include:
Any habitable room that is likely to be used as a living area, must be fitted with an internal window covering that reasonably blocks light and is one that is usually installed in a domestic household.
For more information, view Rooming house operators: meeting your gas and electrical safety obligations.
Exemptions from minimum standards
In exceptional circumstances, the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria may exempt a rooming house owner from some standards in the Regulations. The exemption may be unconditional or on specified conditions, and may be a total or limited exemption.
An exemption can only be granted when the rooming house owner:
- is not able to modify the rooming house to comply with the relevant standards due to the nature, age or structure of the rooming house, or
- is not able to modify the rooming house to comply with the relevant standards due to an obligation to comply with a competing law, or
- has sufficiently addressed the relevant standards by other means.
An exemption will be denied if it poses an immediate threat to the safety of residents. To date, no rooming house owner in Victoria has been granted an exemption.
For further information about exemptions, please contact us via our General enquiry online form.
Good practice guidance
These guidelines will help rooming house operators achieve higher standards.
In residents’ rooms:
- the two working power outlets can be one double or two single power outlets, but not double adaptors or powerboards
- power outlets should not be inside cupboards
- window coverings should be substantial enough to prevent anyone seeing into the room from the outside, including at night. Window coverings must be a kind that can be purchased by a blind supplier or one used for normal household use.
- a privacy latch should be strong enough to not break easily. A cabin latch does not fulfill this requirement
- bottled gas camp stoves are not suitable as they are a fire hazard
- cooking and preparation facilities should be located together
- sinks should only be provided in bedrooms if kitchenette facilities are also provided; otherwise, a sink should be in the kitchen
- an oven provided in a bedroom must be at least large enough to hold a full-size dinner plate or medium oven dish; toaster ovens may not meet this requirement
- cooking facilities in bedrooms must be assessed for any fire safety risk
- all refrigerators should have a freezer compartment
- lockable cupboards should be separately keyed, and each resident should have their own key.
In the rooming house generally:
- rooms should either have windows that open to allow enough air into the room, or an exhaust fan installed in the ceiling or wall, so there is adequate ventilation
- adequate lighting for internal rooms generally means a person should be able to comfortably read a newspaper or magazine in the room
- adequate lighting for corridors and hallways generally means people should be able to navigate these areas safely
- the main entry should have enough external lighting to light the area outside the door, so residents can see who is knocking or ringing the doorbell.
Public health and wellbeing standards
Rooming houses must be registered with the local council. The council may inspect the rooming house to see if it meets the standards set out in the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020. These standards include (but are not limited to):
- at least one toilet for every 10 people
- at least one bath or shower and one washbasin for every 10 people
- continuous and adequate supply of hot and cold water to all toilet, bathing, laundry, kitchen and drinking water facilities
- rooms and communal areas in a clean and well maintained condition.
Rooming houses must have adequate and well-maintained hard-wired smoke alarms to protect residents. Refer to the Building Regulations 2018 for more information.
Keeping safety inspection records
Rooming house operators must ensure that regular gas and electrical safety checks are conducted and make the records available to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria and to the resident on request.
Gas and electrical safety check certificates can be lodged for each rooming house premises via myCAV as proof that you have complied with your obligations.
Reminder notifications will also be sent to a rooming house operator periodically to advise them to lodge the required safety check certificates.
- A gas safety check must be done every two years. These records, including the compliance certificate and details of the licensed gas fitter who performed the check, must be kept for two years.
- An electrical safety check must be done every two years. These records, including the compliance certificate and details of the licensed electrician who performed the check, must be kept for two years.
For any work done by a licensed gas fitter or electrician, the rooming house operator must be able to provide a current certificate of compliance.
If a rooming house does not meet standards
If a resident thinks their rooming house does not meet the minimum standards, they should contact us.
If the issue they’ve identified is related to health and wellbeing standards, they should contact their local council.
For more information, search the Public register of rooming houses.
What is a rooming house
A rooming house is a building where four or more people can live in rented rooms, some of which might be shared.
The rooming house is managed by a rooming house operator and individual residents usually have separate agreements with the operator.
The operator can decide who can live in the property without consulting the residents.
In most rooming houses, residents share bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and other common areas. The rooming house operator and their family do not usually live in the property.
It is different to a share house, where everyone signs the same agreement.
You can read more about rooming house rental agreements.