Boarding houses provide accommodation for a fee. Usually a resident only has a right to occupy a room and share other facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom, they do not have the same rights as tenants. To make sure boarding houses are maintained to high standards, the Boarding Houses Act 2012 has:
- established a public register of boarding houses in NSW
- increased inspection powers for local councils
- introduced occupancy rights for people living in boarding houses
- modernised the laws that apply to boarding houses accommodating people with 'additional needs'™.
Download the Living in a Boarding House brochure (PDF, 894.15 KB). It explains the basic rights of boarding house residents and where to get more information.
What is a registrable boarding house?
There are two types of ‘registrable’ boarding houses covered by the Boarding Houses Act 2012. These are:
- General boarding houses – accommodate five or more paying residents, excluding the proprietor, the manager and members of their families. General boarding houses do not include hotels, motels, backpackers’ hostels, aged care homes or other types of premises excluded by the Act.
- Assisted boarding houses – accommodate two or more persons with additional needs. A person with additional needs has a disability such as an age related frailty; a mental illness and/or an intellectual, psychiatric, sensory or physical disability, and needs support or supervision with daily tasks and personal care such as showering, preparing meals or managing medication. Assisted boarding houses are licensed by NSW Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), which is part of the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).
Boarding House Register
The Boarding House Register is a public list of general and assisted boarding houses providing information about:
- the name and address of the boarding house
- the boarding house proprietor
- whether the boarding house is a general boarding house or an assisted boarding house
- the local council areas in which the boarding house is located.
To search the Register, go to the accommodation registers page.
Local council inspections
Local councils are responsible for approving new boarding houses and enforcing safety and accommodation standards in existing boarding houses. They also have the power to fine operators if they are unregistered and order them to meet building, safety and accommodation standards.
Fair Trading and ADHC have developed a Guide for Councils (PDF, 509.22 KB) which has contact and background information on the Act and the Regulation. The Boarding house inspections fact sheet (PDF, 170.82 KB) will help councils develop a boarding house inspection program. An inspection report template (RTF, 157.29 KB) is also available.
If you have concerns about a boarding house in your area, contact your local council. The Local Government Directory has the contact details for all councils in NSW.
If the boarding house has a swimming pool, it needs to be registered with the NSW Government's Swimming Pool Register and comply with pool safety laws. Go to the pool safety checklists page on the Swimming Pool Register website for more information.
Boarding house laws
View or download the Boarding Houses Act 2012 and the Boarding House Regulation 2013 on the NSW Legislation website.