New Laws To Better Protect Rooming House Residents

06 May 2016

Victorian residents living in rooming houses are set to be better protected under new laws passed in Parliament this week.

The Rooming House Operators Bill 2015 requires all operators of rooming houses to pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test to obtain a licence to operate a rooming house.

A rooming house is a building where one or more rooms are available to rent and has four or more tenants. Previously, there were no restrictions on who was allowed to operate a rooming house.

Under the laws, it will be a criminal offence to operate a rooming house without a licence. Significant penalties apply if anyone is successfully prosecuted for this offence, including jail terms of up to two years, or a maximum fine of more than $36,000 or $182,000 for bodies corporate.

Under the new licensing scheme, a person will not qualify for a rooming house licence if they:

  • have been convicted or found guilty of certain types of serious criminal offences in the past 10 years
  • been convicted, found guilty or declared by a court to have breached certain other laws in the past 5 years
  • are insolvent, or bankrupt
  • have had a person appointed to make decisions on their behalf, for example financial and legal decisions

Under the Bill, licences will be initially granted for a maximum of three years, with licensees required to apply for renewal prior to the expiry of the initial licence. The Business Licensing Authority will be responsible for issuing licences, and a licensee may operate multiple rooming houses under the one licence.

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Quotes attributable to Minister for Consumer Affair, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett

“Rooming house residents are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and they deserve to live in an environment that is safe and secure.”

“This legislation will better protect tenants by helping ensue that operators are suitable to run rooming houses which comply with basic hygiene, safety and security standards.”

Quotes attributable to Director of Consumer Affairs Simon Cohen

“Consumer Affairs Victoria has already commenced work to implement the new licensing scheme for rooming house operators.”

“Consumer Affairs Victoria will work closely with the Business Licensing Authority to ensure that Local Government Victoria, councils and rooming house operators all understand the criteria for a ‘fit and proper person’ and their obligations under the new legislation.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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