14 Aug 2012
Rooming House Update
As many of you are aware, rooming house operators have obligations to register premises with Council under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (“PHWB Act”). These premises must also comply with the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 (“PHWB Regs”).
New laws have recently been passed, Residential Tenancies (Rooming House Standards) Regulations 2012 No. 17 (VIC) ("RT Regs") which will introduce minimum standards for rooming houses from 31 March 2013. These standards relate to residents' privacy, security, safety and access to amenities in rooming houses. Non compliance may result in on the spot fines of up to $2,800 being issued for breaches with the RT Regs. Consumer Affairs has the responsibility for issuing fines under the new laws.
What does this mean for Councils?
From 31 March 2013, when inspecting a rooming house for compliance with the PHWB Act and PHWB Regs, Council should be aware of the new RT Regs and minimum standards and refer any non compliances to Consumer Affairs Victoria for investigation. Caution should be exercised by Council in registering a rooming house that does not comply with the RT Regs. Risks of liability may arise where Councils register premises that do not comply with statutory standards.
The introduction of the RT Regs and the relevant amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 will not alter the standards set out in the PHWB Regs. Councils should ensure their health, building and planning departments are all informed of the coming RT Regs.
Ultimately it is important that Councils consider all relevant legislation when registering and monitoring the compliance of rooming houses.
This article was written by Louisa Dicker, Lawyer - M+K Litigation Team.