TenantsTips / Australia / Boarding Houses Act 2012

Boarding Houses Act 2012

This article offers advice and information for Australian tenants in relation to renting in a boarding house. It also outlines tenant’s rights and obligations under the Boarding Houses Act 2012.

What is the Boarding Houses Act 2012?

The Boarding Houses Act 2012 is an act of legislation that aims to regulate and improve standards in relation to registered boarding houses and boarding houses that are eligible to be registered. The following are the aims outlined in the Boarding Houses Act 2012:

  • Create a public record of registered boarding houses and boarding houses that should be registered.
  • Call for increased powers of inspection for councils.
  • Call for certain rights for persons living in boarding houses.
  • Call for safe and secure boarding for occupants.

What does the Boarding Houses Act cover?

The Boarding Houses Act 2012 applies to any boarding house that either is registered or should be registered as a place of ‘boarding’. Properties used for the purpose of boarding can include flats, complexes and houses. There are two sorts of boarding houses that may be covered by the act; these are ‘general boarding houses’ and ‘assisted boarding houses’.

General boarding houses:

Boarding Premises that do the following are categorized as ‘general’ boarding houses:

  • Provide a place of principal residence for boarders and lodgers.
  • Have facilities including beds for five or more boarders. This number should not include the proprietor, manager or any relatives of either who reside at the premises.

The majority of boarding houses that are eligible for registering are general boarding houses.

Assisted boarding houses:

Assisted boarding houses are run by care staff. They provide accommodation and other services to residents with disabilities who require a high level of care.

Who/ what does the Act not cover?

  • Boarders/ lodgers who live in a boarding house that does not meet the criteria for registration.
  • Motels, hostels, hotels, serviced apartments and bed-and-breakfast accommodation.
  • Premises used to accommodate students such as schools and other educational institutions.
  • Employers who use business premises to accommodate employees.
  • Government funded accommodation for refugees/ crisis.
  • Residential care facilities, public hospitals, private health facilities, mental health facilities, nursing homes and retirement villages.
  • Holiday parks or residential parks.

Occupancy agreements:

Under the Boarding Houses Act 2012 residents of boarding houses may have either an occupancy agreement or a rental agreement, depending on the boarding house and the proprietor.

An occupancy agreement is an agreement made between the proprietor and the boarder in which you agree on the rent charge, how often you will pay the rent and which room in the property you will occupy. An occupancy agreement is still valid even if it is not in writing.

What does the act mean for residents?

The act works to protect residents and ensure that they are able to reside in safe and secure boarding premises. Under the Boarding Houses Act 2012 the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal has the power to deal with some disputes between boarding house proprietors and residents.

Boarders’ rights under the Act / Occupancy Principles:

Boarders are entitled to the following:

  • To be made aware of the rules of the boarding house before moving in.
  • To be provided with a copy of the occupancy agreement.
  • To live in reasonably clean premises.
  • To live in reasonably secure premises.
  • Enjoy reasonable peace at the premises.
  • Not to pay penalties for breaking the rules of the boarding house or agreement.
  • To live in an environment that is in a reasonable state of repair.
  • To be made aware of how an agreement may end.
  • To be made aware of any notice that will be given if the agreement is ended.
  • To not be evicted without written notice.
  • To have the opportunity to resolve disputes.
  • Not to be charged a security deposit of more than 2 weeks occupancy fee.
  • The release of a security deposit within 2 weeks of the end of an agreement.
  • To receive 1 month notice of any planned increase to occupancy fees.
  • Be supplied with receipts for any money paid to the proprietor.
  • Be informed what utilities you will pay for, and how the charges will be determined at the time you enter into an agreement.

Resolving disputes:

If a term of the occupancy agreement or an occupancy principal is breached by the proprietor of the boarding house you can make an application to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal in order to resolve the dispute.

The NCAT has the power to grant orders to stop a breach. The organization can also order the proprietor to compensate you for any breach that has caused you loss or suffering.

Ending agreements:

If you want to leave:

The amount of notice you are obliged to give should be outlined in your occupancy agreement. If it is not you should give ‘reasonable’ notice.

If you are asked to leave:

If the proprietor asks you to leave they are required to give you the correct notice in compliance with the Occupancy Principles.


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