Rooming house agreements

What a rooming house is

Rooming houses are residential properties where rooms are let to three or more people. As the proprietor, you may also live at the property or may visit it regularly, and have access to all common areas without having to give notice to the residents.

The Residential Tenancies Act1995 is the governing legislation for rooming houses. Failure to comply with this legislation can lead to a fine being imposed.

What a rooming house agreement is

rooming house agreement 34.0 KB is the lease agreement that sets out some of the rights and responsibilities of both the resident and the proprietor.

A rooming house agreement doesn't have to be written, it can be verbal or just implied, but a written agreement will give you greater legal protection if anything goes wrong.

A written rooming house agreement must be signed by the proprietor and the resident. A copy of the agreement must be given to the resident at time of signing.

The rooming house agreement should include the amount a resident will be charged for any services or utilities provided - eg electricity, meals, telephone. It also needs to explain how these charges have been calculated.

The rooming house agreement generally states that the resident must:

  • pay rent when it is due
  • obey the house rules
  • not use or permit the property to be used for illegal purposes
  • not to cause or permit damage to the property
  • keep their room in a reasonable state of cleanliness
  • notify you of any maintenance required as soon as possible
  • allow you reasonable access to their room.

You are responsible for organising the documentation, including the rooming house agreement, paying any costs associated with this and giving the resident copies.

House rules

The house rules must be in writing. Their main purpose is to ensure the health and safety of people and property. They cannot contradict the Residential Tenancies Act 1995.

A copy of these rules should be:

  • given to the resident if they ask for a copy unless they have received one within the last two months
  • displayed on the premises where residents can see them.

House rules can include conditions about:

  • the use of common areas and facilities
  • the behaviour of residents and their guests
  • smoking, if it is permitted and where
  • noise
  • parking facilities
  • whether alcohol is permitted on the premises.

House rules should be reasonable. If you change or create new house rules you must give residents at least seven days' written notice of the changes before they can take effect.

Ending a rooming house agreement

If your resident abandons (vacates) their room, their rooming house agreement with you is terminated.

You can end a periodic agreement by giving the resident four weeks' written notice. Residents with a periodic agreement who choose to leave must give you one day's notice.

If a resident is in rent arrears they must be behind by at least two weeks before you can give them two days' written notice to either pay the arrears in full or the agreement will be terminated and they will have to leave.

You can give written notice that an agreement ends immediately or on a date you

  • have specified if the resident or their guest:
  • has caused serious damage to the property
  • has seriously interfered with the comfort, peace and privacy of other residents
  • creates a danger to other people.

If any other conditions or house rules have been broken you can give the resident seven days' written notice that their agreement will end and they will have to move out.

All termination notices must be on the form provided by Consumer and Business Services (CBS).

If a resident refuses to leave after receiving written notice to do so you must make an application to the South Australian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for an order of eviction. 

What to do if a resident has left belongings behind

If a resident has moved out and has left some belongings at the property you must keep all property, including personal documents safe for 14 days before you can dispose of them. Perishable foodstuffs can be disposed of immediately.

You must not take or dispose of a resident's property because they owe you rent or other payments. 

Managing disputes

If you are having a problem with a resident CBS can provide advice and information to help you resolve the problem.

Community Mediation Services can provide free and independent mediation services to help you and the resident to come to a mutually acceptable solution.

Related information


A rooming house proprietor's guide 787.6 KB

For an alternative version of a document on this page contact CBS tenancies branch.

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Page last updated: 11th June 2015