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

Shared room rights (rooming houses)

In a rooming house there are two kinds of sharing rooms. You can either rent the whole room with people you choose to share with, such as your partner. Or you can rent a 'shared room', and the owner chooses who shares the room with you. This page explains some your legal rights for shared rooms.

New rental laws

Changes were made to renting laws on 29 March 2021. This page will be updated soon to account for the new laws.

Is it a 'shared room'?

When you move into a rooming house, the rooming house owner (or their agent or manager) must give you a form called a Notice to Proposed Rooming House Resident. This form tells you whether you have an exclusive occupancy right or a shared room right.

Exclusive occupancy

If you are the only person renting the room (a sole occupant) or if you choose to share the room with another person such as your partner – you have an exclusive occupancy right.

Shared room

If you share a room with one or more other residents chosen by the rooming house owner – you have a shared room right.

Room capacity

The maximum number of residents allowed to share a room is called room capacity. This number can’t be more than the legal capacity set out in the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2009.

The law

Increasing room capacity

The owner can request an increase

A rooming house owner can request an increase in room capacity – for more people to share your room – for both exclusive occupancy and shared rooms.

They must ask for your written consent

Before the rooming house owner can increase the room capacity – the maximum number of residents sharing the room – they must get written consent (agreement) from all residents already in the room.

The rooming house owner must give each resident of the room a Consent to Increase in Room Capacity form. The form must state the total number of people that the owner wants in the room and what the new reduced rent will be.

You don’t have to agree

You do not have to give your consent to increase room capacity. If the rooming house owner tries to pressure you into giving your consent, contact us for advice.

If you don’t agree – don’t sign the consent form. The owner can’t increase the room capacity and the form expires in 14 days from the date on the form.

If you do agree and sign the consent form – your rent must be reduced. But remember the owner decides who will share your room and they don’t have to tell you before another person moves into the room.

You can change your mind

You have 3 days after signing the consent form to withdraw your consent if you change your mind. To do this, sign and date the first page of the form and give it back to the rooming house owner.

Reducing your rent

If you agree to the increased room capacity, your rent must be reduced – even if extra residents do not move into the room.

When does reduced rent start?

The reduced rent starts 7 full days from the date that you sign the Consent to Increase in Room Capacity form.

If you are sharing with other residents, the reduced rent starts 7 full days from the date the last person signed the consent form.

Rent not reduced enough

If you think the rent hasn’t been reduced enough, you can write to Consumer Affairs Victoria to investigate – but you must do so within 30 days of the date on the consent form. We can help you with this.

Illegal increases

The rooming house owner is breaking the law if they increase the room capacity without written consent from all residents currently renting the room.

If the rooming house owner moves an extra person into your room but does not follow the proper process, you will not have to pay rent from the day the extra resident (or residents) move in, until either:

a) the number of people in the room is reduced to the legal capacity, or

b) 7 full days after the owner gets the proper consent.

Before you decide not to pay your rent, make sure this rule applies to your situation: contact us for advice.

Shared rooms general rights

Electricity, gas and water bills

If you have shared room rights, you don’t have to pay for electricity, gas or water, even if there is a separate meter to measure usage of these for your room.

Peace and quiet

All residents in a rooming house have the same duty to respect each other’s right to peace and quiet. This applies to residents in your room, residents in other rooms and also to the shared areas of the rooming house.

The rooming house owner must also respect the right of all residents to live in peace and quiet. If the owner is disturbing your peace and quiet, contact us for advice.

Entry to your room by the owner

The rooming house owner must also respect your right to privacy. However, they do have the right to enter a shared room if:

  • every resident of the room agrees at the time that the owner wants to enter
  • 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 (eg deliver clean sheets) and they are entering during the hours stated in the house rules
  • they have given a reason in keeping with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and have given 24 hours’ written notice to all occupants of the shared room

If you think the rooming house owner is entering your room when they have no right to do so, contact us for advice.

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