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 houses public register

Rooming house operators can apply to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria to stop the public from seeing their property’s address on the Rooming houses public register.

The Director will only restrict public access to the address when there are exceptional circumstances. 

This may include suppressing the address of a rooming house run by either a housing agency registered under the Housing Act 1983, or a non-government organisation funded to deliver family violence services.

Suppression in these circumstances may be approved to help protect residents threatened by interpersonal or family violence.

Rooming house operators must make their request to the Director in writing. 

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.

For more information, view Minimum standards in rooming houses.

Gas and electrical safety

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

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 Know your council.

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 What must an operator give a new resident?.

Bond and rent

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

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:

Entry rights to rooms

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

For information about inspections, view Rooming house inspections.

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 Increasing capacity in a rooming house room.

Resolving disputes

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

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

Violent situations in rooming houses

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

Family violence

Download our fact sheet for operators whose rooming house may include a resident affected by family violence:

For more information about family violence, view Family violence.

When a resident leaves

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

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:

Closing a rooming house

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

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 RAAV.

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

Small business
Australian Consumer Law resources.