On this page:
The rooming house operators licensing scheme, established under the Rooming House Operators Act 2016, came into effect on 26 April 2017.
The Business Licensing Authority (BLA) within the Department of Justice and Community Safety is responsible for granting licences to applicants who are 'fit and proper persons'. For more information on the 'fit and proper person' criteria, view Rooming house operator licensing disqualification.
Apply for, update, or renew a licence online
You must use myCAV to apply for a rooming house operator’s licence, update your licence details and renew your licence.
The licensed rooming house operator (or responsible person for a body corporate) will need to create their own individual myCAV account to use the system.
To create your myCAV account, you will need a personal email address to verify your identity and sign into your account. For more information, view About myCAV.
For more information on applying for a licence, view Apply for a licence.
The obligation to be licensed is in addition to operators' other legal obligations, including the requirement to register their rooming houses with the relevant local council. For more information, view Local council registration requirements.
Who needs to be licensed?
Only the individual person or the body corporate (company, incorporated association or co-operative) operating the rooming house needs to be licensed.
Rooming house operators must apply for, and be granted, a licence before they can start operating a rooming house.
Rooming house managers
A rooming house manager (who is engaged by the operator to perform day-to-day management of a rooming house) does not require a licence. However, a rooming house manager is a ‘relevant person’ in relation to the operator’s licence who will be assessed as part of their licence application, and must meet the same ‘fit and proper person’ requirements. For more information on the 'fit and proper person' assessment, visit Rooming house operator licensing disqualification.
There is a fee for each ‘relevant person’ who is assessed as part of a licence application. For more information on fees, view Fees and forms.
If you are unsure whether you are a rooming house manager or operator, view Definitions.
Note: Others who may do work at a rooming house - for example, a cleaner, gardener or maintenance person - will not need a licence unless they also operate the rooming house business. They are also not a ‘relevant person’ in relation to the operator’s licence application.
Officer of a body corporate
An officer of a corporate entity which operates a rooming house, such as a director of a company, does not require a licence. However, they will be a ‘relevant person’ in relation to the body corporate’s licence who will be assessed as part of their licence application, and must meet the same ‘fit and proper person’ requirements.
Estate agent managing leasing
If you own a rooming house business but engage an estate agency to manage the leasing arrangements, the estate agency will be regarded as a ‘managing agent’ and will not need to apply for a licence. You, as the operator, will need to be licensed.
Any person from the estate agency who takes part in managing your rooming house is a ‘relevant person’ along with the licensee. This may be the branch manager, property manager or, in some situations, the Officer in Effective Control. It may be more than one person. For more information on ‘manager’ and ‘relevant person’, view Definitions.
Note: This person or people must be named in the licence application and must meet the same ‘fit and proper person’ requirements as the operator. There is a prescribed fee for each ‘relevant person’ who is assessed as part of an operator’s licence application.
You should ensure that the estate agency allocates responsibility for the day-to-day management of a rooming house to a single person. If the manager changes, you must immediately inform the BLA via myCAV.
You may need to seek independent legal advice if it is not clear who the ‘relevant person’ is in your particular circumstances.
If you own the building and lease it to someone who decides to operate the premises as a rooming house business, you do not need a licence.
Note: if you are unsure about the application of the new licensing scheme to your particular circumstances you should seek independent legal advice.
Will you need more than one licence?
The holder of a rooming house operator licence can operate multiple premises under a single licence. They do not need a separate licence for each registered rooming house premises they operate.
However, if you operate multiple premises under different business or ownership structures, each entity must hold a licence.
Success or failure of a licence application
If your application is successful, you will receive a licence for three years.
If your application for a renewal of a licence is unsuccessful, you must issue a 120-day notice to vacate under section 91ZZM or section 142ZR of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (as appropriate) within the required time.
You will not be committing the offence of operating without a licence for the 120-day period from the date you issue the notice to vacate.
For more information on the licence disqualification criteria, view Rooming house operator licensing disqualification.
Application for review of decision
If your application is refused by the BLA, in very limited circumstances you may be able to apply to VCAT for review of the BLA's decision. For more information, view Refusal of licence.
You must pay the application fee and initial licence fee when you apply for a licence. The application fee is non-refundable.
For the full schedule of fees, view Fees - rooming house operators.
Online public register of licensees
For information about the public register of rooming house operators, including extracts and requesting suppression of your details, view the public register.
Local council registration requirements
The licensing scheme does not change your obligations to register your premises with the relevant local council, in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
For more information on your obligations, view Running your business - rooming house operators.
Note: A rooming house operator only needs one licence. You do not need a separate licence for each of your rooming house premises.
You will not need to have been granted a licence to operate rooming houses in order to successfully register your premises, or have registered your premises in order to be granted a licence.
You may want to register premises before you apply for a licence, or start the registration and licence application processes at the same time.
Registered housing associations and registered housing providers
These will not need to be licensed, as they are already registered by the government (by the Housing Registrar under the Housing Act 1983). For more information about the registered housing sector, and to access the public register of registered housing associations and providers, visit Who we regulate at Housing Registrar.