Boarding Houses Act
As a tenant you have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019. This factsheet explains the rights of residents of registrable boarding houses under the Boarding Houses Act 2012.
What the Boarding Houses Act 2012 covers
The Boarding Houses Act 2012 (‘the Act’) applies to certain types of boarding premises. The premises may be a house or flat, or a complex of premises. If the premises is covered by the Act, the premises are known as a ‘registrable boarding house’.
The Act applies to boarding houses whether or not they are registered, what matters is whether they should be registered. There are two types of registrable boarding house: ‘general boarding houses’, and ‘assisted boarding houses’.
The Act provides for occupancy agreements between boarding house proprietors and residents, and gives the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) power to deal with some disputes. See Factsheet 11: NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for more information on attending the Tribunal.
A boarding house proprietor is the person or company who runs the boarding house. A proprietor may own the building, but they do not have to – it is possible for a tenant of the owner to be the proprietor. A proprietor may also employ a manager to take care of daily business for them.
The Act also requires registrable boarding houses to be inspected by the local council. Assisted boarding houses are subject to further regulation by Ageing, Disability and Home Care NSW.
General boarding houses
General boarding houses are boarding premises that:
- provide boarders and lodgers with a principal place of residence
- have beds for five or more residents (not counting the proprietor, manager or any relatives of proprietor or manager if they also reside at the premises)
Almost all registrable boarding houses are general boarding houses.
Assisted boarding houses
Assisted boarding houses (previously known as licensed boarding houses, or licensed residential centres) provide accommodation and other services to people with disability who need a high level of care.
Contact People With Disability Australia on 02 9370 3100 if you are a person with a disability looking for advice or advocacy in an assisted boarding house.
Residents of boarding houses may have either a rental agreement or an occupancy agreement under the Act.
An occupancy agreement is the agreement between yourself and the proprietor in which you agree on things like what money you will pay, how often and which room of the boarding house you will be in.
If your occupancy agreement is not in writing, it is still enforceable, and needs to comply with the Occupancy Principles.
Who/what the Act does not cover
The Act does not cover:
- boarders or lodgers not living in a registrable boarding house (See Factsheet 14: Boarders and lodgers)
- hotels, motels, backpackers hostels, serviced apartments and bed-and-breakfast accommodation
- schools and premises used by educational bodies for the accommodation of students
- premises used by employers for the accommodation of employees
- refuges and crisis accommodation funded by government
- private health facilities, public hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes and residential care facilities
- retirement villages, residential parks, holiday parks
What the Act means for residents
The Act provides for occupancy agreements between boarding house proprietors and residents, and gives the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal power to deal with some disputes.
It is a term of your occupancy agreement that your accommodation is provided in compliance with the Occupancy Principles.
Your rights under the Act and Occupancy Principles
You are entitled to:
- be given a copy of the occupancy agreement
- know the rules of the boarding house before moving in
- not be required to pay a penalty for breaking either the rules of the boarding house or the agreement
- live in premises that are reasonably clean
- live in premises that are in a reasonable state of repair
- live in premises that are reasonably secure
- know how and why your agreement may be ended
- know how much notice will be given if your agreement is to end
- not be evicted without reasonable written notice
- have quiet enjoyment of the premises
- be given the opportunity to resolve disputes using reasonable dispute resolution processes
- not be charged more than 2 weeks occupancy fee as a security deposit
- receive your security deposit back within 14 days of the end of the agreement except for specific costs
- be given 4 weeks notice of an increase to the occupancy fee
- be given receipts for any money you pay to the proprietor
- be told what utilities you will be asked to pay for, and how the charges will be calculated by the time you enter into the agreement
Resolving disputes in boarding houses
If the proprietor breaches a term of your occupancy agreement, or breaches an occupancy principle, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve the dispute.
The Tribunal can order the proprietor to stop breaching the agreement, to do something to fix a breach, or to pay you compensation for loss caused by that breach.
Your occupancy agreement should set out the amount of notice you are required to give before you end your occupancy agreement and move out.
If it does not, you should give notice equivalent to the period of your occupancy fee (so, for example, if you pay weekly, you would give one week’s notice). In some cases, such as where the proprietor has seriously breached the agreement, you might give less notice.
If the proprietor wants you to leave, and you do not want to, they must give you notice that complies with the Occupancy Principles. If it does not, you are able to apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order that they not evict you.
If the notice is valid and you are still at the premises when the notice period ends, you may be evicted by the proprietor. The proprietor does not need to apply to the Tribunal or court to evict you; they can do it themselves and, if you resist, they may use reasonable force to evict you. The proprietor can also ask the police to evict you; if you refuse, you may be guilty of an offence.
- Factsheet 14: Boarders and lodgers
- Podcast episodes: Full House, Tenants Facing Additional Barriers part 1 and part 2.
- More resources for boarding house residents
- The Occupancy Principles poster briefly summarises the 12 occupancy principles that cover residents of registrable boarding houses in NSW
Factsheet updated February 2023
This factsheet is intended as a guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. It applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in New South Wales, Australia. © Tenants’ Union of NSW.