Boarding house tenancies and standard tenancies share many of the same requirements. Find out about the differences here.
About boarding houses
In a boarding house, tenants have their own boarding house tenancy agreement with their landlord to rent a single room, or a sleeping area within a room they share with other tenants. They also share facilities, for example the kitchen and bathroom. This is different to a standard tenancy, where one or more tenants sign the tenancy agreement to rent the whole property.
A boarding house is occupied, or intended to be occupied, by at least six tenants.
How boarding house tenancies are different
- There are no fixed-term tenancies in a boarding house – agreements are intended to last 28 days or more.
- If the bond is equal to one week's rent or less, it doesn’t have to be lodged with Tenancy Services.
- The landlord must give 28 days’ written notice before increasing the rent.
- Tenants must have access to their room, and toilet and bathroom facilities, at all times.
- Landlords must keep the shared facilities in a reasonable state of cleanliness.
- Tenants’ rooms must be reasonably clean and tidy, and must not create a health or safety hazard.
- The landlord can enter the boarding house at any time, but they must give 24 hours' notice to enter a tenant's room (except in specific circumstances). See entering a tenant's room.
Boarding house requirements
Landlords must comply with local council requirements before establishing a boarding house. They should contact their local council to see if they need to make changes to the property to meet those requirements.
Boarding house landlords also need to stay up to date with changes to tenancy law. Recent changes include the healthy homes standards and Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020.
Healthy homes standards
The five healthy homes standards introduce minimum standards for rental properties to make it easier for tenants to keep their homes warm and dry. The standards cover heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping. All boarding houses must comply with the healthy homes standards by 1 July 2021.
Boarding house tenancy agreement
Tenancy agreements are contracts between a landlord and tenant(s). All tenancy agreements must be in writing and include some essential information. Also, there are additional statements that landlords must sign and attach to all new tenancy agreements.
A boarding house tenancy agreement is similar to a standard tenancy agreement, but must also include:
- if the tenancy is intended to last for 28 days or more
- the landlord’s phone number
- the room number that the agreement is for
- whether the room is shared by other tenants, and the maximum number of tenants that may occupy the room
- whether the tenancy is a joint tenancy, and the names of the other people in the room
- services the landlord provides
- the name, contact address and phone number of the boarding house manager (if different to the landlord)
- a description of the fire evacuation procedures.
A boarding house landlord can make house rules. These set out any provided services, along with how to use and enjoy the facilities. The landlord must provide at least seven days’ written notice of any rule changes.
The landlord must give the tenant a copy of the rules at the start of the tenancy. They should also display copies around the boarding house.
The house rules can’t breach the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) or any other law (e.g. the Human Rights Act or the Privacy Act). If you believe a house rule breaches the law, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.
Locks and security
The house and all rooms must be reasonably secure. The landlord must provide enough locks to ensure this. Tenants must have access to their room, and toilet and bathroom facilities, at all times.
Before changing any lock, the landlord must tell every tenant who will be affected.
Tenants must not alter, add to or remove any lock or similar security device.
A boarding house landlord may enter a boarding house room without notice:
- if a tenant of the room agrees at, or immediately before, the time of entry
- if the landlord believes there’s an emergency, or serious risk to life or property
- to provide any agreed services, as long as entry meets the conditions of the agreement or house rules
- in accordance with an order from the Tenancy Tribunal.
A boarding house landlord may enter a boarding house room after giving 24 hours’ notice to:
- inspect the room, if it has been more than four weeks since the last inspection
- inspect the room, if the landlord believes the tenant has abandoned the room or breached the RTA in another way
- show the room to a possible tenant or buyer
- fulfil their obligations under the RTA
- inspect work the landlord required the tenant to carry out, or work the tenant agreed to carry out
- show the room to a registered valuer, real estate agent, or building inspector.
The landlord can enter the boarding house (not individual rooms) at any time. However, the landlord, or any other tenants, can’t interfere with a tenant's quiet enjoyment of the premises.
Ending a boarding house tenancy
Different rules apply for ending a boarding house tenancy.