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This information is a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

Published: May 2023

Living in a rooming house

If you live in a rooming house you have legal rights. For example, the rooming house operator must give you 24-hour access, keep the property in good repair and respect your privacy. Find out more on this page about your rights and how to protect them.

Rooming houses

A rooming house is a building or apartment with one or more rooms available to rent, where at least four people (officially called residents), can live. Rooming houses are different to other share-houses as the rooming house operator decides who lives at the property and usually has individual agreements with each resident, including individual arrangements for paying rent.

You are a rooming house resident if you rent a room, or shared room, in a property like this.

You are also considered to be a rooming house resident if you have been living at a hotel or motel, as your main or only home, for at least 60 continuous days.


The rooming house operator must give you:

  • 24-hour access to your room
  • 24-hour access to the toilet and bathroom
  • Access to other facilities during reasonable hours

House rules

The rooming house operator may make house rules about the use and enjoyment of the rooming house.

If they do make rules, they must make sure:

  • The rules are reasonable and are followed and interpreted fairly
  • They give you a copy, and put a copy up in your room
  • They give you 7 days written notice if they want to change them

If you think any of the rules are unfair, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to challenge them, but you should continue to follow them until VCAT decides.


The rooming house operator must keep the rooming house, including your room, in good repair.

If repairs are needed, the steps you should follow depend on whether the repairs needed are urgent or non-urgent.

Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs need to be done as soon as possible.

They include:

  • A burst water service
  • A blocked or broken toilet
  • A serious roof leak
  • A gas leak
  • A dangerous electrical fault
  • Flooding or serious flood damage
  • Serious storm or fire damage
  • A failure or breakdown of any essential service or appliance provided for water, hot water, cooking, heating, or doing laundry
  • A failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity, or water supply
  • A failure or breakdown of any cooling appliance or service
  • A failure or breakdown of any safety device
  • A failure or breakdown in any appliance or fitting supplied by the rooming house operator that will result in a large amount of water being wasted
  • Any fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or not secure, including pest infestations or the presence of mould or damp caused by, or related to, the building structure
  • A serious fault in a lift or staircase

Non-urgent repairs

Non-urgent repairs are anything that is not on the list of urgent repairs. They need to be fixed within 14 days.

Reporting repairs

If repairs are needed tell the rooming house operator as soon as possible, especially if they are urgent repairs.

You can tell them in person, or by phone, but you should also put it in writing. You can use the official Consumer Affairs Victoria ‘Notice to rooming house operator’ form.

This will give you proof of when you reported the problem in case you need to take further action later.

Consumer Affairs Victoria notice form

If repairs are not done

Do not stop paying rent and do not use your rent money to pay for repairs.

There are other steps you can take to get the repairs done.

You can apply to VCAT to get orders that repairs need to be done.

You can also apply to VCAT for your rent to be paid to VCAT instead of the rooming house operator until the repairs are finished.

For non-urgent repairs, you can also ask Consumer Affairs Victoria to carry out a free inspection before you apply to VCAT.

See our page Repairs and maintenance for more information on reporting repairs and getting repairs done. This page is written for people renting houses or apartments, but the processes for reporting and getting repairs done are the same for rooming houses.

Privacy and entry to your room

The rooming house operator must avoid disturbing your peace and quiet and must respect your privacy.

However, it is legal for them to come into your room in certain circumstances.

They can come into your room without notice for these reasons:

  • You, and any other residents in the room, agree
  • There is an emergency, and they need to save someone’s life or valuable property
  • They need to provide a service you have paid for, such as deliver clean sheets, but they can only come in during the hours set out in the house rules

They need to give you 24 hours’ written notice before coming into your room for any of the following reasons:

  • You are moving out and they want to show the room to a new resident
  • The property is being sold or used as a security for a loan and they want to show your room to a buyer or lender
  • They need to carry out their legal duties, such as doing repairs
  • They have reasonable grounds to believe you are not following your legal duties: for example, they believe you have damaged your room

They need to give you 48 hours’ written notice before coming into your room if:

  • They want to do a routine inspection and have not done one in the last 4 weeks

Written notice

The written notice cannot just be pinned to your door or slipped under it.

It can only be given to you in one of 3 ways:

  • In person
  • By post – including extra time for delivery
  • Electronically, such as by email or text – but only if you have agreed to receive notices this way

Entering your room

The rooming house operator can only enter your room between 8am and 6pm, and not on public holidays.

Any entry to your room must be done in a reasonable way. The operator must only be in your room for the time needed to achieve their purpose for coming in.

If the rooming house operator or their agent acts improperly or damages any of your property during their entry, you may be able to apply to VCAT for compensation.

Unless the rooming house operator follows the correct procedures, it is an offence for them to enter your room without a reasonable excuse.

You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.

You can also apply to VCAT for a restraining order stopping or restricting them from coming into your room. For more information see our Applying to VCAT page.

You can also give the operator a ‘notice of breach of duty’ telling them to fix the problem and to not breach your rights to privacy and ‘quiet enjoyment’ (peace and quiet) again. It you want compensation you can claim for that too. For more information see our page Duties and breaches (rooming houses).

Rent increases and reductions

If the rooming house operator wants to increase the rent, they can only do this once every 12 months and first need to give you 60 days written notice, using the official form.

Official rent increase form

You can challenge the increase if you think it is too high, or if you have not been given at least 60 days’ notice, or if the official form was not used.

For more information on challenging a rent increase see our page Rent increases.

Reduced services

If part of your rent has been going towards extra services, like sheets and towels or room cleaning, and you are no longer getting those services, or they have been reduced, the rooming house operator must reduce your rent.

Room capacity increased

If you are in a shared room and the rooming house operator wants to increase the number of people who can share your room, they must reduce your rent.

They also need your permission before they can add anyone to your room.

See our page, Sharing rooms (rooming houses).

Electricity, gas and water

The rooming house operator can only charge you for electricity, gas, or water if your room has its own separate meter which measures your usage and no-one else’s.

If your room has a separate meter the rooming house operator cannot charge you more than they are paying to the supplier.

If your room does not have its own separate meter, or you are in a shared room, the rooming house operator must pay these costs.

They also can’t ask you to pay excessive usage charges caused by faults in most instances.

For more information also see the section headed ‘Excessive usage charges’ on our page Utility charges. The page is written for people renting houses or apartments, but the laws on excessive usage charges are the same for rooming houses.

Overdue rent

If your rent is 7 days overdue, you can be given a 2-day notice to vacate asking you to move out.

You do not necessarily have to move out just because you get a notice to vacate.

There are legal steps the rooming house operator must follow if they want to evict you.

This includes taking the notice to vacate to VCAT, where VCAT could decide to make an order that you can pay off any overdue rent instead of being evicted.

See our pages Notices to vacate (rooming houses) and Evictions (rooming houses).

It is illegal for the rooming house operator to take or dispose of your property because you owe them rent.

If you receive a notice to vacate you should get legal advice as soon as possible, from us at Tenants Victoria or from a Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program service, or the Tenancy Plus service for people in public or community housing.

Tenants Victoria
Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program [TAAP]
Tenancy Plus

Duties and breaches

Both you and the rooming house operator have duties under the law that need to be followed.

If you or the rooming house operator breach any of your duties the other can give a ‘notice of breach of duty’.

This notice tells the person who committed the breach that they must:

  • Fix the problem and not commit the same, or similar, breach again, and/or
  • Pay compensation for any loss suffered because of the breach

For more information see our page Duties and breaches (rooming houses).


If you think the rooming house operator has broken the law, you can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 or on CAV’s online form.

Consumer Affairs Victoria complaints form

Contact your local council if you want to report an unregistered rooming house or have concerns about a rooming house or the operator.

Find your local council

VCAT and disputes

VCAT hears disputes between residents and rooming house operators.

It is not a court, but it can make decisions that must be followed by rooming house operators and residents.

It is intended to be informal and cheap, and to resolve disputes quickly and fairly.

For more information see our page VCAT.


See the list below for links to the laws and regulations on the topics on this page.

The law

Related pages

Rooming houses
Moving in (rooming houses)
Sharing rooms (rooming houses)
Duties and breaches (rooming houses)
Moving out (rooming houses)
Notices to vacate (rooming houses)
Evictions (rooming houses)

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