Major Reforms in Minor Detail: Rooming Houses Defined

Starting this month, we will be looking at a single issue from the recent tenancy law reforms and discussing what it means for the community housing sector.

One change that we have received lots of questions on lately is the small change to section 19 of the RTA, which has important implications for whether or not certain buildings can be managed as rooming houses.

In general, where four or more residents are on separate rental agreements but share bathrooms or kitchens, the property is a rooming house.  This means that it can be managed under the rooming house provisions of the RTA and that a range of obligations for the rooming house operator kick in.

The RTA also provides a way for the government to declare blocks of self-contained units to be rooming houses by publishing a notice in the Government Gazette.  Once this is done, this allows these buildings to be managed under the rooming house provisions also.  Previously, this process only applied to buildings owned or leased by the Director of Housing but changes to s19 of the RTA allow buildings owned or leased by community housing organisations to become rooming houses via the same process.

Self-contained units should only be managed as rooming house rooms if doing so benefits the residents and Homes Vic has met with the sector to discuss the issues and is working with CHIA Vic to set up a process for deciding whether this is the case for any particular building.  The factors that will be considered will be the built form of the building, how the program targets clients and what supports are available to help sustain tenancies. Community housing organisations will soon be contacted about how they can make the case that a building they own or lease, that doesn’t meet the standard definition of a rooming house, should be declared to be a rooming house.

If member organisations need help in deciding whether a building should be managed as a rooming house or not, they can contact me via email on jason.perdriau@chiavic.com.au