BOARDING HOUSES: What are your rights

The NSW Boarding Houses Act 2012 provides some rights for residents of registerable boarding houses with five (5) of more residents.

These are called "occupancy principles", they include provisions that: 

  • A written agreement must be supplied; 
  • House rules will need to be provided to lodgers before they move in; 
  • Receipts need to be provided to lodgers for all payments of money; 
  • Security deposits are limited to no more than 2 weeks board; 
  • Balance of security deposits to be returned to lodgers within 14 days after the agreement ends; 
  • No penalties are allowed for breaching the agreement; 
  • Lodgers are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the premises; 
  • Grounds for termination must be provided;
  • Reasonable written notice is required to terminate;
  • Utilities only to be charged to lodgers if this is disclosed at the start of the agreement and the charge is a reasonable measure of the lodger’s use; 
  • The premises is to be reasonably clean, in a reasonable state of repair and reasonably secure;
  • Four weeks notice for rent increases; 
  • Lodgers will be able to apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to have their rights upheld, claim their security deposits and claim compensation
  • The details of registerable boarding houses will also be publicly available. These properties will be subject to inspections and fines for infringements in relation to overcrowding, amenities, hygiene and so on.

EATS took a particular interest in the development of the Act in 2012. Our catchment areas of Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick Council areas contain a number of registered and unregistered boarding houses. The closeness to UNSW, Sydney University and a number of major tourist sites in Sydney means that these areas attract a lot of international students and backpackers. Boarding houses are also one of the only affordable housing options for low-income earners in the area.

Follow the links below for more information about the legal rights of boarders and lodgers:

Link Renters legal rights
An outline of the different rights that apply to different rental contracts, such as residential tenancy agreements, occupancy agreements and so on

The Boarding Houses Act 2012
The Boarding Houses Act 2012 Follow the link and then click on Boarding Houses Act 2012 No 74 towards the top of the left hand column.