Rooming, boarding and lodging houses are residential properties where a room is available for rent. The landlord is called the proprietor. Tenants are called residents.
The proprietor can enter the common areas of the property without giving notice and may also live in the property. Shared facilities and utilities like electricity are available for residents. Extra services such as meals and laundry may also be included.
There isn’t a specific law that covers boarding or lodging if less than three people are renting rooms. Contact the Legal Services Commission if you are having problems in a boarding or lodging house which is rented to fewer than three people.
Renting to three or more people
Rooming houses rent to three or more people and must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1995.
Proprietors and residents need to obey house rules and they have many of the same rights and responsibilities as other tenancies:
Rooming house lease agreements
A rooming house agreement should include all costs a resident is charged for including rent, services or utilities such as electricity, meals, telephone. It also needs to explain how these charges are worked out.
Ending a rooming house lease
Residents need to give at least one day’s notice to end a periodic agreement. Proprietors need to give residents at least four weeks’ notice.
A proprietor may end a lease agreement for:
- rent arrears – if rent is overdue by two weeks, the resident can be given two days' written notice to pay the rent or the agreement will end and they will need to move out.
- serious damage, danger or interfering with peace – a resident can be asked to leave immediately or on a date set by the proprietor
- breaking house rules – a resident can be given at least seven days written notice.
Termination notices must be on forms provided by Consumer and Business Services (CBS).
A proprietor may make an application to the South Australian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for an order of eviction if the tenant refuses to leave after they have been given the correct written notice.
Rooming house bond
From 9 May 2015, proprietors must lodge bonds with CBS within two weeks, or four weeks if a registered agent manages the property.
Before 9 May 2015, proprietors did not have to lodge a bond with CBS.
A proprietor can ask for up to two weeks' rent for a bond and up to one week's rent in advance at the start of the tenancy. A receipt must be given to the resident within 48 hours of receiving the bond even if this was paid directly into a bank account.
The Residential Bonds Online service is available to rooming house proprietors.
House rules must be in writing and need to focus on people’s safety and health and the care of the property. They cannot contradict the Residential Tenancies Act 1995.
Proprietors must make sure a copy of the rules are:
- given to the resident if they ask (unless they have received one within the last two months)
- displayed at the rooming house where people can see it.
House rules can include information about:
- using common areas and facilities
- the behaviour of residents and their guests
- smoking areas, if it is allowed
- parking facilities
- alcohol, if it is allowed.
House rules should be reasonable. The proprietor needs to give residents at least seven days' written notice of changes to the rules.
Rights and responsibilities
Proprietors must make sure that residents:
- can enjoy peace and comfort in the rooming house.
- always have access to their room
- have a lockable cupboard, or something similar in their room
- can use shared facilities including a bathroom
Proprietors must also make sure that:
- rooms is reasonably secure – provide working locks or other security devices
- all areas are reasonably maintained
- residents are given at least 14 days notice of renovations
- they do not stay in the residents room longer than necessary unless the resident agrees.
Residents of a rooming house must make sure they:
- do not use the room for anything illegal
- do not keep animals without permission
- care for their room so it’s safe
- tell the proprietor of damage to the property
- allow the proprietor reasonable access to their room.
Sale of a rooming house
The proprietor must advise the residents in writing that they are selling the property, within 14 days of signing with a sales agent. They must wait 14 days after they give the written notice before they advertise or bring buyers through the house.
The resident must be given written notice when the rooming house is sold and given the new owner’s name and the date they need to pay rent.
Housing improvement order
Rent cannot be increased on a house with a housing improvement order until the order has been lifted.
Rent can be increased on a house with a housing improvement order when the order is lifted. The correct notice is:
- within four weeks of an order being lifted - 14 days written notice
- more than four weeks after an order is lifted – Four weeks written notice
Fees and charges
A resident can be charged for rent and:
- water supply
Fees and charges must be in writing, usually in the lease agreement. A resident can’t be charged for a service they haven’t been told about (in writing).