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

Published: May 2023

Sharing rooms (rooming houses)

In rooming houses some rooms are shared by 2 or more people. There are two kinds of shared rooms – sharing with people you choose or sharing with people the rooming house operator chooses.

Room type

Before you move in the rooming house operator must give you a notice telling you if you will be renting a room by yourself or a shared room.

The operator must use the forms on the Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) website.

Notices about rooms

Room to yourself

If you are the only person renting your room, you will have an ‘exclusive occupancy right’.

When you have an exclusive occupancy right, the rooming house operator cannot move anyone else into your room.

Sharing with someone you choose

If you are sharing a room with someone you have chosen, like your partner, but no-one else, you will also have ‘an exclusive occupancy right’.

The rooming house operator cannot move anyone else into your room.

Moving a partner in – increased costs

If you start out renting a room by yourself, but later want your partner to move in, your own rent will be reduced, but the amount you pay together could be more than what you were paying on your own.

Rents in rooming houses are based not only on renting the room but also on using shared facilities and utilities such as electricity.

Having someone move into your room will increase the use of facilities and utilities in the house, so you could end up paying more together than you would if you were renting the room on your own.

If you have had someone move in with you, and think the rent being charged is too high, you can challenge this by writing to Consumer Affairs Victoria and asking them to investigate.

You must do this within 30 days of your partner moving in and the new rent being charged.

Other shared rooms

The other type of shared room is where the rooming house operator decides who will share your room with you.

There are laws that must be followed for these types of shared rooms.

How many can share?

The number of people who can legally share a room is called the ‘room capacity’ and depends on the size of the room.

For example, only one person can live in a bedroom with a floor area of less than 12 square metres.

Two people can share a bedroom with a floor area of 12 square metres or more. An additional person is permitted in rooms larger than that for every extra 4 square metres.

Increasing the capacity

If the number of people sharing your room is not already at capacity, the rooming house operator can ask to add an extra person, or people.

If they want to do this, they must give all the residents in your room an official notice asking for everyone’s permission.

The notice needs to say how many people they want to share the room.

You do not have to agree to having your room capacity increased. It cannot be increased unless all the residents in your room agree.

Do not sign the form if you do not agree.

If you agree, but later change your mind, you have 3 days from the time you signed the form to take back your permission.

To do this you need to sign and date the second page of the form and give it back to the rooming house operator.

Form for consent to increase room capacity

Reducing the rent

If the rooming house operator wants to increase the room capacity, they must also reduce your rent – even if no extra residents end up moving in.

The notice asking for permission to increase the capacity needs to say what the new rent will be.

The new rent will start 7 days after all the residents in your room have given their permission.

If you think the rent has not been reduced enough, you can write to Consumer Affairs Victoria and ask them to investigate.

You must do this within 30 days of getting the notice asking for your permission to increase the capacity.

We recommend you use the form for requesting a rent assessment on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Rent assessment form

Illegal increases

The rooming house operator is breaking the law if they increase the room capacity without first getting written permission from all the residents in the room.

You can report this to Consumer Affairs Victoria, which can issue a fine.

If the rooming house operator moves an extra person into your room – without giving you the proper notice and getting your permission – you do not have to pay rent from the day the extra person moves in until either of these 2 things happen:

  • The number of people staying in your room goes back to what it was, or
  • The operator gets proper written permission from all the residents in your room, and it has been 7 days since they got that permission – but remember that you do not have to agree

Before you decide not to pay your rent, make sure one of these 2 situations applies to you.

If neither applies to you, and you stop paying rent, then the rooming house operator may try to evict you for overdue rent

Shared rooms general rights

Electricity, gas, and water bills

If you have a shared room, you do not 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 are required to respect each other’s right to peace and quiet. This applies to residents in your room, in other rooms and in common areas.

The rooming house operator also has to respect the right of all residents to live in peace and quiet.

If your peace and quiet is disturbed, you can give the rooming house operator a breach of duty notice. For more information see our page page Duties and breaches (rooming houses).

Operator entering your room

The rooming house operator also needs to respect your right to privacy. However, they can enter your room in these situations:

  • Every resident in your room agrees
  • 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 delivering clean sheets, and they only enter during the hours in the house rules
  • They have given a reason allowed under Victorian rental laws and proper written notice

For more information see the ‘Privacy and entry to your room’ section on our page Living in a rooming house.

More help

For more information or help contact us, your local Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) service or Tenancy Plus provider.

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


View our handy pocket guide on moving in, living in, and moving out of a rooming house.

Tenants Victoria Rooming House Residents Handbook

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)
Living in a rooming house
Duties and breaches (rooming houses)

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