Boarding premises fall under the general coverage of the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 (Part 4A). Boarding premises are often tenanted by vulnerable members of society, including people with a disability. Section 48D specifically makes provision for the limited situations where a room may be shared – this is where the two tenants are joint tenants, or where one is a carer for the other.
Under the Act, boarding premises is defined as a room and any other facilities provided with the room where:
(a) the room is occupied as a principal place of residence; and
(b) any of the bathroom, toilet or kitchen facilities are shared with other persons.
Boarding premises therefore include a boarding or rooming house as well as a pub, so long as the bathroom, toilet or kitchen facilities are shared with other people and the premises are not used for holiday purposes. However, the Act excludes those premises located in a building occupied predominately by tertiary students (such as University Colleges).
Boarding premise tenants and owners have rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancy Act 1997. Boarding tenants have the following obligations:
- observing any house rules, such as visiting hours, rules for shared facilities, and smoking or alcohol consumption restrictions (s48H);
- obligations that apply to all other tenants, such as cleanliness
Owners have the following obligations:
- providing a copy of any house rules (s48G);
- maintaining bathrooms, toilets and facilities shared by tenants in proper working order (s48F);
- providing details of meal times;
- clear rules around any restrictions;
- changes to house rules (s48H)
Bathrooms and Toilets
- Provide 24 hour access to a toilet and hand washing facilities
- Reasonable use of either a bathroom or shower at least once every day
- Private access to the toilet, bathroom or shower – not group access (s48C).
Where meals are connected with the accommodation, breakfast must be available between the times of 6am and 9am; lunch between 12 midday and 2pm; and dinner between the hours of 5pm and 8pm (s48E).
Unless tenants are joint tenants or one person is the carer of another, a boarding premises (the room) must be inhabited by only one person (s48D).
The owner is responsible for the maintenance and proper working order of the facilities (s48F).
House Rules and Key Terms
Both of these must be provided in clear words. The agreement must be accompanied by house rules (s48G(3)(a)). The key terms are the parties to the agreement, the location of the premises, the facilities provided, the date of agreement, the date of expiry of the agreement if the agreement is for a fixed term, the amount of rent, and the period for which it is to be paid, and any services provided in connection with the agreement (s48G(5)).
House rules are listed at section 48H and include such items as rules of bathroom access, rules for visitors, restrictions on parking or storage, whether smoking or drinking is restricted.