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.
We have also listed good practice guidance for operators so they can ensure their rooming house meets high standards. Operators are strongly encouraged to meet these higher standards.
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 resident’s room must have at least two unoccupied, working, safe power outlets – this means they can’t have a service in the room such as a fridge or cook-top plugged into them.
- windows in a resident’s room must have a covering that provides privacy and can be opened and closed by the resident.
Bathrooms – minimum standards
A shared bathroom or toilet:
- must be fitted with a privacy latch that can be securely latched from the inside without a key.
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
- oven and cook-top with four burners in good working order – there must be one of these for every 12 residents who do not have an oven or cook-top in their room, with the number based on the maximum number of residents the rooming house can accommodate rather than current residents
- 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.
Dining facilities in a common area – minimum standards
In common area dining facilities, 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.
- A table that can comfortably fit this number of chairs.
Shared laundries – minimum standards
Rooming house operators must provide shared laundry facilities. There must be one set of laundry facilities for every 12 residents. Facilities must include:
- 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.
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.
- 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 can be opened must be able to be securely closed or opened without a key
- each rooming house entrance must have a lock operated by a key from outside and without a key from inside.
- 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.
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.
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.
- a privacy latch should be strong enough to not break easily.
- 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 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 2018 for more information.
Keeping safety inspection records
Rooming house operators must do regular gas and electrical safety checks and make the records available to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria and to the resident on request.;
- 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 five years. These records, including the compliance certificate and details of the licensed electrician who performed the check, must be kept for five 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.
Sections of the Act
If you want to know what the law says about minimum standards for rooming houses, you can read: