Special rules for boarding houses
Boarding houses are subject to special rules – for example, tenants do not have to pay a bond when they move in. Sometimes there is confusion about whether a property is a share house or a boarding premises. Here is a simple way to tell them apart:
- in a share house, two or more tenants agree with the owner to rent the whole of the property. The tenants decide between themselves who will use which bedroom. The tenants share common areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. The tenants are jointly responsible for any damage and cleanliness of the property, including the common areas
- in a boarding house, each tenant agrees with the owner to rent a bedroom, rather than the whole property. The other areas are shared.
A boarding house should have a Statement of Key Terms and House Rules.
In a boarding house lease:
- no bond can be charged
- a condition report is not compulsory
- an owner is restricted on entering a tenant’s room
- a routine inspection may be carried out each month
- general repairs must be completed within 7 days
- notice to terminate/vacate
- if the lease does not have a fixed end date, the tenant may leave after giving 2 days’ notice.
If the owner lives at the property and rents only one or two bedrooms, the property is not a boarding premises, and the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 (the Act) does not apply. Disputes between the owner and tenant/s need to be sorted out between themselves.
If the boarding house has mostly tertiary students, or TasTAFE students within the meaning of the Training and Workforce Development Act 2013, the property is not considered a boarding premises. However, exemptions to the Act may apply to these leases. If you are unsure, contact Rental Services .
If a boarding house tenant and owner are unable to resolve a complaint or dispute, the Residential Tenancy Commissioner can help both parties to resolve the issue. You can contact the Commissioner’s office for information. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Commissioner can make an order, which a Magistrate can enforce. This means you can be fined for not complying with an order.
Statement of key terms
A boarding house should have a statement of key terms, which sets out the basic rights and responsibilities of the owner and tenant.
The tenant should be given a copy of the Statement of Key Terms and a copy of the House Rules at the beginning of their lease.
The Statement of Key Terms should include:
- the amount of rent
- when the rent is to be paid
- the amount to be paid for any other services
- the address of the boarding house
- the length of the lease
- the name of the tenant
- the name of the owner.
The owner must keep a copy of the signed Statement of Key Terms for at least 6 months after the lease ends.
If the boarding house provides meals (as part of the Statement of Key Terms), they should be available within the following times:
- Breakfast from 6am – 9am
- Lunch from 12 midday – 2pm
- Dinner from 5pm – 8pm
The owner should give the tenant a list of any house rules. The house rules should have:
- a list of services provided (eg, laundry and meals) including times available and how often they are provided
- any rules about:
- use of bathroom and shower facilities
- access to the premises by visitors
- parking and storage of goods
- drinking alcohol and smoking on the premises
- any method of changing the house rules
- how the boarding house takes the views of tenants into account when putting together the house rules.
A boarding house should display house rules where they can be easily seen by all tenants and must be available to tenants when they ask for them.
Tenants should be told about any changes to house rules.