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Rooming house bond, rent and other charges
Information for rooming house proprietors about bond, rent and other utilities a resident can be charged for, including providing proper receipts, and increasing and decreasing the rent.
Bond and rent in advance
At the start of a tenancy, a proprietor can ask for:
- up to two weeks' rent as a bond - 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
- up to one week's rent in advance - a receipt does not have to be given if the resident pays rent directly into a bank account.
Residents may be eligible for assistance with paying bond and rent.
A bond guarantee provided by Housing SA must be receipted and lodged before the 'to be lodged by' date issued by Housing SA.
The guarantee form must be signed by all parties to the bond. An unsigned guarantee form will not be accepted by CBS.
Lodging a bond
A proprietor must lodge a bond with Consumer and Business Services (CBS) within two weeks of receiving the money from the resident, or within four weeks if a registered agent manages the property. Bonds paid before 9 May 2015 did not have to be lodged with CBS.
Bonds can be lodged online through the Residential Bonds Online service.
Claiming and refunding a bond
The bond belongs to the resident. At the end of the tenancy, unless the proprietor has a claim against the bond, it must be returned to the resident or to Housing SA (if they paid the bond on the resident's behalf).
A proprietor can claim all or part of the bond if:
- the resident is in rent arrears
- there are outstanding charges for services and facilities provided under the rooming house agreement
- the resident or their guest caused damage to the property
- the room is not left in a reasonably clean condition.
When claiming for cleaning or repair of damage caused by a resident, the proprietor must take into account the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy, for instance, it would be unreasonable to claim the full cost of painting a room if the room was last painted several years before the resident moved in. Residents have the right to dispute any claims against the bond.
At the end of a tenancy, a resident moving to another country can keep their Australian bank account open so their bond refund can be paid into that account. If they want it paid into an overseas bank account, they will need to lodge an International Money Transfer with CBS. The overseas bank may charge them a fee.
Bonds can be refunded online through the Residential Bonds Online service
Changing the rent
Increasing the rent
Rent can only be increased once every six months from the date the resident moved in or from the last rent increase.
A proprietor must provide residents with at least four weeks' written notice of a rent increase that shows the new rent amount and the date it applies from.
The rent cannot be increased under a fixed term rooming house agreement unless a specific condition is included in the agreement.
If the amount of the rent increase and the date it starts is specified in the rooming house agreement, written notice doesn't have to be given.
If the rooming house is subject to a housing improvement order rent cannot be increased until this order has been lifted. Within four weeks of a housing improvement order being lifted a proprietor can give the resident 14 days' written notice that the rent will increase. After this four week period has expired four weeks' written notice of a rent increase will need to be given.
Reducing the rent
Rent can be reduced at any time by agreement. This can be a temporary arrangement and if so, residents should be made aware of the date rent will revert back to the original amount.
Rent receipts and records
A proprietor must give a resident a receipt within 48 hours of receiving a payment for rent, unless it is paid directly into a bank account.
A detailed record of all rent paid must be kept by the proprietor. The date the money is credited into the account is the 'paid' date.
Rent receipts and records must show:
- the date the payment was received
- the name of the person who made the payment
- the amount paid
- the address the payment relates to
- the period the payment relates to.
An example of a proper rent receipt/record:
Other fees and charges
At the start of a rooming house agreement a proprietor must give the resident a written notice that clearly shows which services or utilities they will be charged for and how these charges will be calculated. A resident cannot be charged for a service they weren't told about. All details should be included in the rooming house agreement.
A proprietor can charge a resident for:
- water supply
A proprietor must give a resident a receipt within 48 hours of receiving a payment for services, unless it is paid directly into a bank account. If requested by the resident, a proprietor must provide a statement detailing information of the payment within 7 days.
Things a proprietor can't charge for
A proprietor cannot charge for:
- council or sewerage rates
- the emergency services levy