Minimum standards in rooming houses

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Residential tenancy standards

Introduction

A rooming house is a building where one or more rooms are available to rent, and four or more people in total can occupy those rooms.

From 31 March 2013, rooming house operators must comply with minimum standards set out in the Residential Tenancies (Rooming House Standards) Regulations 2012. These standards relate to privacy, security, safety and amenity in rooming houses. The minimum standards apply to a rooming house and its rooms, irrespective of whether the resident is on a rooming house agreement or individual tenancy agreement.

The additional information below listed as `good practice guidance’ are steps operators can take to ensure their rooming house meets high standards. Operators are strongly encouraged to make these changes to their premises.

Residents’ rooms

  • any door used for entry to 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 resident’s room must have at least two working power outlets
  • residents’ windows must have a covering that provides privacy and can be opened and closed by the resident.

Good practice guidance:

  • the two required power outlets should not be occupied by services provided in the room; for example, a refrigerator or cook-top
  • 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.

Bathrooms

  • a shared bathroom or toilet must be fitted with a privacy latch that can be securely latched from the inside without a key

Good practice guidance:

  • a privacy latch should be strong enough to not break easily.

Kitchens

Each resident must have access to and use of food preparation facilities. These can be provided in the resident’s room or a shared kitchen.

If these facilities are in a resident’s room, they must include a:

  • food preparation area
  • sink
  • 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
  • sink
  • oven and 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 (based on the maximum number of residents the rooming house can accommodate)
  • refrigerator with at least 400 litres capacity
  • lockable cupboard for each resident, with a minimum 0.1 cubic metres (100 litres) of storage capacity.

Good practice guidance:

  • 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 casserole dish; toaster ovens may not meet this requirement
  • cooking facilities in bedrooms must be assessed for any fire safety risk
  • bottled gas camp stoves are not suitable
  • all refrigerators should have a freezer compartment
  • lockable cupboards should be separately keyed, and each resident have their own key.

Dining facilities in a common area

  • enough chairs for the maximum number of residents that can be accommodated in a resident’s room
  • a table that can comfortably accommodate this number of chairs.

Shared laundries

  • a wash trough or basin plumbed to a continuous and adequate supply of hot and cold water
  • immediately next to the trough or basin, space with hot and cold water supply outlets suitable for a washing machine
  • a clothes line or other clothes drying facility.

General rooming house standards

  • 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 need to ensure that your diagram is compliant.
  • internal 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 17 of the Regulations) 
  • all gas installations and fittings must be checked at least once every two years by a licensed gas fitter
  • all electrical installations and fittings must be checked at least once every five 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 able to be opened must stay securely closed or open without a key
  • each rooming house entrance must have a lock operated by a key from outside, and without a key from inside, the rooming house
  • the main entry must have a window, peep-hole or intercom system, and a working external light fitting that provides enough light during non-daylight hours to provide for safe access and to screen visitors to the rooming house.

For more information, view our Rooming house owners: meeting your gas and electrical safety obligations page.

Good practice guidance:

  • for adequate ventilation, rooms should either have windows that open to allow enough air into the room, or an exhaust fan installed in the ceiling or wall
  • 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.

Records

Rooming house owners must conduct the following safety checks and make the records available to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria on request:

  • gas safety check - every two years, and keep the records (compliance certificate) for two years after the check was made, including the details of the licensed gas fitter who performed the check
  • electrical safety check - every five years and keep the records (compliance certificate) for five years after the check was made, including the details of the licensed electrician who performed the check.

Good practice guidance:

  • if you have had any work done by a licensed gas fitter or electrician, you must be able to provide a current certificate of compliance.

Exemptions

In exceptional circumstances, the Director of Consumer Affairs 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.

For further information about exemptions, please contact us on 1300 55 81 81.

Contact for residents

If a resident thinks their rooming house does not meet the minimum residential tenancy standards, they should contact Consumer Affairs Victoria. 

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 Regulations 2009. 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 2006 for more information. 

Contact for residents

If a resident thinks their rooming house does not meet the minimum health and wellbeing standards, they should contact their local council.

For more information, view our Public register of rooming houses search page.

Last updated: 15/08/2016

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