Rooming houses are residential properties where rooms are available for rent to three or more people. The landlord is called the proprietor. Tenants are called residents. Rooming houses must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1995.

The proprietor can enter the common areas of the property without giving notice and can 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.

Proprietors and residents need to obey house rules and they have many of the same rights and responsibilities as other tenancies:

Renting to less than three people

There isn’t a specific law that covers boarding or lodging houses where rooms are rented to fewer than three people. The Legal Services Commission can provide information about rights and obligations in these types of agreements.

Proprietor's responsibilities

A proprietor must:

  • lodge bond money paid by residents with Consumer and Business Services (CBS)
  • allow residents quiet enjoyment of common areas and facilities
  • not interfere with a resident's comfort, peace and privacy
  • make sure residents have access to their room at all times
  • make sure residents have reasonable access to bathroom and toilet facilities
  • provide and maintain locks and any other security devices necessary to ensure a resident's room is reasonably secure
  • provide a lockable cupboard or similar in the resident's room to allow them to keep their personal property secure
  • maintain all areas to a reasonable standard unless the property is subject to a housing improvement order from the Housing Safety Authority
  • display a copy of the house rules in a place where residents can see them
  • provide proper receipts for any money received
  • provide the resident with a copy of any necessary documents, including the rooming house agreement
  • give the residents at least 14 days' notice of renovations to be carried out in the rooming house.

Resident's responsibilities

Residents of a rooming house must make sure they:

  • pay rent on time
  • don't use the room for anything illegal
  • don't keep animals without permission
  • care for their room and common areas of the rooming house so it’s safe
  • tell the proprietor of damage to the property
  • allow the proprietor reasonable access to their room.

Rooming house lease agreements

A rooming house agreement (54.8 KB PDF) 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.

A resident must be given a copy of the signed written agreement.

House rules

House rules must be in writing and need to focus on people’s safety and health and the care of the property. 

Proprietors must make sure a copy of the rules are:

  • displayed at the rooming house where they are able to be seen
  • given to the resident if they ask (unless they received one within the last two months).

House rules can include information about:

  • using common areas and facilities
  • the behaviour of residents and their guests
  • smoking areas, if it's allowed
  • noise
  • parking facilities
  • alcohol, if it's allowed.

House rules should be reasonable and can't contradict the Residential Tenancies Act 1995.

The proprietor needs to give residents at least seven days' written notice of changes to the rules.

A proprietor's right of entry

Proprietors don't need to give residents notice to enter the common area of the rooming house.

Residents must allow the proprietor reasonable access to their room. The proprietor shouldn't stay in the resident's room longer than necessary unless the resident agrees.

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'll 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
  • any other breach (for example, 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 .

A proprietor can apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for an order of eviction if the tenant refuses to leave after they've been given the correct written notice.

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. They must also be provided with the new owner's name and date they need to pay rent to them.

Contact CBS Tenancies

Email: ocbatenancyadvice@sa.gov.au

Phone: 131 882

Post:
GPO Box 965
Adelaide SA 5001


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Page last updated 11 January 2023

Provided by:
Attorney-General's Department
URL:
https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/housing/renting-and-letting/rooming-lodging-and-boarding-in-private-rental/living-in-a-rooming-house
Last Updated:
11/01/23
Printed on:
27/01/23
Copyright statement:
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