The rooming house owner must allow you:
- 24-hour access to the rooming house and the communal bathroom and toilet facilities
- access during ‘reasonable’ hours to other communal facilities
Privacy and entry to your room
The rooming house owner must avoid disturbing your peace and quiet.
They should also respect your privacy. However, it is legal for them to enter your room without notice if:
- you agree at the time (or in the case of a shared room, each resident of the room agrees at the time)
- there is an emergency and they need to save your life or valuable property
- they need to provide a service you have paid for (eg deliver clean sheets)
The rooming house owner can enter your room after giving you 24 hours notice in writing if:
- you are due to move out and they need to show the room to a new resident
- the rooming house is due to be sold and they need to show your room to a buyer or lender
- they need to carry out repairs or another duty under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997
- they believe that you are using your room for an illegal purpose
- they need to inspect the room and they haven’t done so for 4 weeks
Note: It is illegal for the rooming house owner to enter your room except for the above reasons.
The notice must be delivered by mail or given to you personally between 8am and 6pm (they can’t just slip it under the door). The rooming house owner must allow 2 full business days for the notice to be delivered if it is sent by mail. (A business day is any day from Monday to Friday, unless it is a public holiday.)
The actual entry is only allowed between 8am and 6pm and not on public holidays. The rooming house owner must behave in a reasonable manner during the visit. If they damage any of your property, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for compensation.
When the owner wants to add residents to a shared room
If the rooming house owner wants to put more residents in a shared room they must get written agreement from all residents already living in the room. You don’t have to agree to the increase if you don’t want to. If you sign a Consent to Increase in Room Capacity form, you have 3 days after signing the form to change your mind. If you agree to an increase in room capacity, your rent must be reduced starting 7 days after you gave consent. The rooming house owner gets to decide who will be sharing your room.
If you think that the owner is not offering enough of a rent reduction you should contact us immediately.
The rooming house owner can make house rules about the use of rooms and the facilities in the rooming house. They must give you a copy of the house rules at the time that you move in. It is their responsibility to make sure that house rules apply to all residents, not just some.
The rooming house owner can change the rules, but they must give you 7 days written notice. If you think that any of the rules are unfair, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) to challenge them. However, you should continue to obey the house rules until the Tribunal makes a decision.
Some rooming house owners tell residents that they need to get the signatures of all the other residents before they can challenge a house rule at the Tribunal. This is not true.
Electricity and gas
If your room has meters that measure your usage of electricity or gas (and no-one else’s usage), you are likely to have to pay for these utilities. The rooming house owner cannot charge you more than they are paying to the supplier. However, most rooming houses don’t have separate meters, which means the rooming house owner must pay all of these bills. Also, if you are in a shared room you do not have to pay for utilities.
If you paid for electricity, gas or water when the rooming house owner should have paid, they must pay you back. . If they refuse, contact us for advice.
If your room has a heater but the room is not separately metered, the rooming house owner cannot charge you for use of the heater.
You are responsible for keeping your room clean and tidy. Also, you must not install any fixtures in your room (eg picture hooks) without the rooming house owner’s written consent or the owner could claim this against your bond or
make a compensation claim.
The rooming house owner is responsible for keeping both your room and the rooming house in good repair. If repairs are needed, the steps you need to follow depends on whether the repair is urgent or non-urgent.
The following problems are considered urgent:
- a burst water service
- a blocked or broken toilet
- a serious roof leak
- a gas leak
- a dangerous electrical fault
- a flooding or serious flood damage
- serious storm or fire damage
- a breakdown of essential hot water, water, cooking, heating or laundering services
- a breakdown of gas, electricity or water supply
- a breakdown in water appliances supplied by the rooming house owner that will lead to a large amount of water being wasted
- a fault or damage that makes the rooming house unsafe or not secure
- a serious fault in a lift or staircase
If an urgent repair is needed, your fi rst step is to ask the rooming house owner to fix it. If they cannot be contacted or they refuse to fix the problem, contact us for advice.
If there is another facility available in the rooming house (eg. there is another toilet that you can use) then the repair will be a non-urgent repair.
If the problem is not urgent, send the rooming house owner a Notice to Owner of Rooming House. This gives the owner 14 days to fix the problem. This form is available from Consumer Affairs Victoria.
If the problem is not fixed within 14 days, contact us for advice.
Do not stop paying rent if the owner won’t do repairs. Keep paying as usual or you could end up in rent arrears.
Rooming house owners cannot increase the rent more than once every 6 months and they must give you 60 days written notice of a rent increase. If you are given a rent increase that you think is too high or you haven’t been given at
least 60 days notice in the correct form, contact us for advice as soon as possible.
If part of your rent has been going towards an extra service (eg cleaning of your room) and this service is withdrawn or reduced, the rooming house owner must reduce your rent.
The rooming house owner can give you a 2-day Notice to Vacate if you owe 7 or more days rent. It is illegal for them to take or dispose of your property because you owe rent.
You do not have to move out until there has been a Tribunal hearing. If you receive a Notice to Vacate for rent arrears, contact us for advice.
Breach of Duty Notice
The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act) sets out the legal rights and duties of rooming house owners and residents. If the rooming house owner breaches your legal rights under the Act, you can give them a Breach of Duty Notice. Likewise, if you breach a duty under the Act, they can give one to you. If you receive a Breach of Duty Notice or you want to serve one on the owner, contact us for advice.
Once you have served a Breach of Duty Notice, you may be able to claim compensation.