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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.
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 houses where rooms are rented to fewer than three people. The Legal Services Commission can provide information about your rights and obligations in these types of agreements.
Renting to three or more people
Rooming houses 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.
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
You have a responsibility to:
- lodge bond money paid by residents with Consumer and Business Services (CBS) within two weeks of receiving the money, or within four weeks if a registered agent manages the property for you. This applies to all bonds received on or after 9 May 2015
- allow residents the quiet enjoyment of common areas and facilities
- not interfere with a resident's comfort, peace and privacy.
- ensure residents have access at all times to their room
- ensure residents have reasonable access to bathroom and toilet facilities
- ensure the reasonable security of a resident's room and belongings by providing and maintaining locks and any other security devices necessary
- 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, when they move in
- provide a copy of the house rules to a resident when they ask unless one has been provided within the last two months
- provide residents with at least seven days' written notice if you are changing the house rules
- give the residents at least 14 days' notice of renovations to be carried out in the rooming house.
A proprietor's right of entry
You don't need to give residents notice of when you are entering a common area.
Residents must allow the proprietor reasonable access to their room. The proprietor should not stay in the resident's 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).