About boarding houses

Boarding houses are a form of rental accommodation where you don’t get the place all to yourself. All boarding houses have, to some extent, shared facilities (for example, a shared kitchen, bathroom or bedroom). Many boarding houses also provide services, such as meals, cleaning or linen, which involve the proprietor or a caretaker being continually on the premises.

Depending on the arrangements at a boarding house, a boarding house resident may be:

  • a tenant with a residential tenancy agreement under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) (the RT Act) (see sections on Starting a tenancy, During a tenancy and Ending a tenancy)
  • a resident with an occupancy agreement under the Boarding Houses Act 2012 (NSW) (the BH Act) - see below or
  • a boarder or lodger with a common law lodging licence – see Marginal rental section.

Alternatively, in very limited circumstances, a boarding house resident my be a tenant with an agreement under the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1948 (NSW) (the LTA Act). See the section on 'Protected tenants' in Other types of tenants.

Most boarding houses in New South Wales are ‘registrable boarding houses’ covered by the BH Act. There are two classes of registrable boarding houses: ‘general boarding houses’ and ‘assisted boarding houses’. The large majority are general boarding houses. The same rules apply to each class of registrable boarding house, with additional rules for assisted boarding houses. (These are discussed separately at the end of this section.)

As at March 2013, the BH Act is only partly commenced. Provisions relating to the registration of boarding houses commenced 1 January 2013. The rest of the BH Act is expected to commence later in 2013.

This is new

Prior to the BH Act, there was no single piece of legislation that covered so much of the boarding house sector, and many aspects of the operations of boarding houses were unregulated.