Running your business - rooming house operators

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Setting up your rooming house business

Display a copy of your licence

You must display a copy of your licence in a conspicuous place inside the front entrance to each rooming house you operate.

Advertising the rooming house

If you advertise your rooming house (for example, in a newspaper or online), you must advertise it as a rooming house, and not any other type of accommodation.

Keeping a register of residents

You must keep a register of every resident for at least 12 months after the date of the last entry into the register. The register must include the residents name and future address, and arrival and departure dates.

Rooming house standards and safety

Minimum standards in rooming houses

You must ensure that your rooming house property meets minimum standards. These include a range of existing minimum standards, and additional minimum standards that came into force in 2013.

For more information, view our Minimum standards in rooming houses page.

Gas and electrical safety

For information on your obligations regarding gas and electrical safety in your rooming house, view our Rooming house owners: meeting your gas and electrical safety obligations page.

Changing the use of the building to a rooming house

If you want to change the use of your building into a rooming house, the building must meet the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations 2006.

This may involve arranging works such as:

  • installing the necessary fire safety measures
  • changing door hardware
  • installing sanitary facilities
  • other works.

You must find out if a building permit is required for any building work to change the use of the building to a rooming house. A council municipal building surveyor, private building surveyor or other suitably experienced building professional can give advice.

For more information, you should contact the building department of your local council. To find your local council contact details, visit the Know your council website.

Sometimes, a municipal building surveyor, private building surveyor or other qualified building professional may find that no building work is required for the new use as a rooming house. 

Managing rooming house residencies

When a resident moves in

For information on what to do when a resident moves in, view our What must an operator give a new resident? page.

Bond and rent

For information about bond and rent in rooming houses, view our:

Utility bills

Generally, you are responsible for paying water, gas and electricity bills.

You may only charge a resident for a utility if the room has separate meters and if the resident has an exclusive right to the room.

In these cases, you must not charge the resident more than what the utility provider charges the operator.

Repairs

You are responsible for urgent and non-urgent repairs.

However, if a resident has caused the damage, you may ask the resident to pay for the repairs. You must still pay for the repairs until the resident compensates you, as otherwise you may not be meeting your obligations to other residents.

All communication regarding repairs should be in writing. You can use electronic communication (for example, email) if both parties give prior consent to do so. Make sure that consent to electronic communication is in writing.

For more information about repairs in rooming houses, view our:

Entry rights to rooms

For information about your entry rights and obligations, view our Landlord or agent right to enter the property page.

For information about inspections, view our Rooming house inspections page.

Respecting privacy

Residents have a right to privacy, peace and quiet. This means that they must not unnecessarily disturb other residents.

You must also respect a resident’s right to privacy, peace and quiet.

Adding more residents to a room

For more information on adding more residents to a room, view our Increasing capacity in a rooming house room page.

Resolving disputes

For information about resolving disputes in a rooming house, view our Resolving renting disputes page.

For information on what to do when a resident fails to meet their legal obligations, view our When a tenant or landlord breaks the rules page.

Violent situations in rooming houses

For information on what to do if a resident or visitor acts violently or puts anyone in danger, view our Changing the rental agreement in violent situations page.

For information on the rights and obligations of residents experiencing family violence, view our Family violence page.

When a resident leaves

For information about a resident leaving a rooming house, view our:

After a resident leaves the rooming house, the resident and operator must decide what to do with any bond repayments or goods left behind.

For more information, view our:

Closing a rooming house

To find out about closing a rooming house and ending a licence, view our Closing a rooming house page.

Resources for rooming house operators

The Registered Accommodation Association of Victoria (RAAV) provides a handbook for rooming house operators, and brochure summarising your legal obligations. To download these resources, visit the RAAV website.

For information on your business rights and responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law, view our:

Small business page
Australian Consumer Law resources page.

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