TenantsTips / Australia / Boarders and Lodgers Tenancy Rights

Boarders and Lodgers Tenancy Rights

This article offers advice to boarders and lodgers with regards to renting a property. It aims to outline the difference between a boarder, lodger and a tenant, and highlight the rights of ‘marginal renters’.

What are ‘marginal renters’?

‘Marginal renters’ is an umbrella term used to define people who rent premises but fall outside of usual tenant category. Boarders and lodgers pay to occupy residential premises, but unlike tenants they do not have the freedom of exclusive occupation of the premises. The landlord therefore ultimately retains control over the premises.

Marginal renters such as boarders and lodgers are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 as the act excludes people who rent certain types of properties and those who have certain types of rental agreements.

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 excludes certain types of premises and rental agreements. The following types of premises and agreements are not covered under the act.

Premises not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act:


  • Buildings used mostly for the purpose of profession, trade or business.
  • Clubs used to provide temporary accommodation.
  • Hotels, apartments, hostels & motels.


Agreements not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act:


  • Government funded refuge or crisis accommodation.
  • Agreements where a person boards or lodges in private property with another person.
  • Shared housing arrangements where there is no tenancy agreement.


What is the difference between a boarder and a lodger?

As part of their rental agreement boarders are usually entitled to meals whereas lodgers pay solely for their use of a property.

Renting in a boarding house:

If you decide to rent a room in a boarding house you may be covered by the Boarding Houses Act 2012. It is possible to be a tenant or a boarder if you rent in a boarding house, your rental status depends largely on your landlord and how they run and control the boarding house.

If you are unsure you should check your status with your landlord. If there is a dispute over your rental status the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal can make a decision regarding the matter.

Paying a bond:

As a boarder or lodger you may still be required to pay a bond. However, the amount payable should be considerably lower than a tenant would pay. If you pay a bond you should obtain a receipt from your landlord.

Paying rent:

When you pay rent ask your landlord for receipts. If the landlord does not give you receipts then make your own record of any rent payments. These can be backed up my cheque stubs and bank transfers.

Repairs & maintenance:

If you think that something in a boarding house is unsafe or needs to be repaired then you should write to your landlord or the appointed caretaker to make them aware of the problem.

You can also ask your local council to make checks on the boarding house to ensure that the landlord has complied with regulation and the premises are up to standard in terms of health and safety.


Unlike a residential tenancy agreement, agreements for boarders and lodgers are usually set up to work on a ‘rolling’ basis. This gives you the freedom to end agreements with little notice and move on from place to place quickly. Your agreement may state the amount of notice you are required to give your landlord. However, if it does not specify you should give ‘reasonable notice’. 7 days is considered ‘reasonable notice’ for boarders and lodgers.

You should put your notice in writing and give it to your landlord.


If you are being evicted your landlord is obliged to give you notice as specified in your rental agreement. If no notice period is specified your landlord must give you ‘reasonable notice’. If you are being evicted you can seek advice from your local tenant advisory service.


If a dispute arises try to settle it with your landlord. Most disputes that go to court or tribunal could have been solved between tenants and landlords if communication had been sufficient between the two parties. However, if you are unable to settle between yourselves, then a local court may have to settle the case. Boarders living in a boarding house may be entitled to help via the CTTT under the Boarding Houses Act 2012.


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