Rooming houses registration and permits

The following information will help building owners and prospective operators of the regulatory requirements of rooming houses which must be met prior to converting or commencing operation of such a facility.

What is a rooming house?

The definition of a rooming house under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 and the Planning and Environment Act (1987) is a building in which there is one or more rooms available for occupancy on payment of rent in which the total number of people who may occupy that room or those rooms is not less than 4.

The definition of a rooming house (Class 1b) under the National Construction Code 2019 is when one or more buildings are used to accommodate not more than 12 people and have a total area of all floors not more than 300m2.

There are other types of accommodation that also requires compliance with Council’s requirements including but not limited to:

  • Boarding Houses
  • Motel/Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Holiday Camps
  • Student Dormitories
  • Residential Accommodation

It is important to note that this document has been produced to enable owners to determine Council’s requirements for the type of accommodation they wish operate.  The information contained in this document should be used as a guide achieve compliance.  Further information should be sought prior to proceeding with any changes or use or building work. 

What do I have to do before operating a Rooming House?

Before operating a Rooming House you may be required to meet a number of legal requirements associated with Council and Consumer Affairs Victoria. This process generally consists of obtaining approval from a number of areas including:

  • Building Services
  • Community Health
  • Statutory Planning
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria

The detailed requirements for each area are outlined below.

Building Services requirements

The following building requirements only cover Class 1b shared accommodation buildings (not including short-term holiday accommodation).

Shared accommodation buildings that do not comply with the Class 1b requirements would most likely be classified as a Class 3 building.

Class 3 buildings have their own specific regulatory requirements; for example, fire separation, exits and fire fighting equipment. 

It is recommended that you liaise with a building surveyor in the early design stages of your project.

Building classifications

The National Construction Code (NCC) defines Class 1 buildings as: 

Class 1a is one or more buildings, which together form a single dwelling including the following:

(a) a detached house; or

(b) one of a group of two or more attached dwellings, each being a building, separated by a fire resisting wall, including a row house, terrace house, town house or villa unit.

Class 1b is one of more buildings which together constitute:

(a) a boarding house, guest house, hostel or the like that;

(I) would ordinarily accommodate not more than 12 people; or

(ii) have a total area of all floors not more than 300m2 (Measured over the enclosed walls of the building or buildings); or

(b) for or more single dwellings located on one allotment and used for short term holiday accommodation.

Council considers that a Class 1a building is occupied by one family, without regard to the number of occupiers.

In addition to the NCC definition above, Council considers a Class 1b building to be:

  • A building that accommodates or is intended to accommodate, on payment of rent, between 2 and 12 people and any of the people being or intended to be accommodated are non-family related and they do not share other verifiable close relationship among them; or
  • Where individual or joint residents occupy a room or rooms on payment of rent to the exclusion of any other occupier(s); or
  • Council determines that between 2 and 12 unrelated people are being accommodated or are intended to be accommodated, on payment of rent, based on inspection of the building and any other reliable evidence.

Building Permits

A building permit is required:

  • for the construction of a new Class 1b building/s or
  • for changing the Class of an existing building to a Class 1b building use. 

Building permits are issued by Registered Building Surveyors once the building permit is issued and the final inspection is approved, an Occupancy Permit is issued.  The Occupancy Permit and Schedule of Essential Safety Measures must always be displayed in front foyer in the building.  The Essential Safety Measures are to be maintained as per the frequency nominated in the schedule.

Change of Class

Typically Class 1a dwellings are converted (change of class and use) into Class 1b buildings to provide shared accommodation.  The building regulations require that any building changing its class and use must comply with current Building Regulations, the Disability (Access to Premises - Building) Standards 2010 and the National Construction Code (NCC).

These regulations allow a Building Surveyor to check the level of compliance with current building legislation.  In determining the level of compliance the Building Surveyor must have regard to the health, safety and amenity of the occupants of the building.

When issuing a building permit for a change of class to a Class 1b the Building Surveyor will have considered the following elements:

  • Glazing (glazing for human impact);
  • Fire Safety (smoke alarms and emergency lighting, fire separation of the building from the boundaries and other buildings, fire blankets and fire extinguishers);
  • Natural Lighting and Ventilation (natural lighting and ventilation to bed rooms and living spaces to comply with NCC requirements);
  • Construction of 1 Accessible bedroom and an Accessible toilet and shower as per Australian Standard 1428.1 - 2009;
  • Accessible access to the building as per Australian Standard 1428.1 - 2009;
  • Energy Efficiency (generally the provision of wall and ceiling insulation and draught sealing)

Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010

The Premises Standards require access and associated facilities are provided to share accommodation buildings for people with a disability in accordance with the following:

Class of Building

Access requirements

New Class 1b shared accommodation building


* An existing shared accommodation building with 4 or more bedrooms.

To & within –

1 bedroom & associated sanitary facilities; and

not less than 1 of each type of room or space for use in common by the residents or guests, including a cooking facility, sauna, gymnasium, swimming pool, laundry, games room, eating area, or the like; and

rooms or spaces for use in common by all residents on a floor to which access by way of a ramp complying with AS 1428.1 or a passenger lift is provided.

*This is not a retrospective requirement; the need to provide access and facilities into an existing building is triggered by the issue of a building permit.  For example, the premises standards will apply when a building permit is issued to convert an existing house into a shared accommodation building or an existing accommodation building with 4 or more bedrooms.

It is recommended that you liaise with your building surveyor in the early design stages of your project.

Note - A building surveyor does not have any discretion over the premises standards.

Occupation of outbuildings

Outbuildings are Class 10 buildings.  A building permit for a change of use is required if it is proposed to convert a Class 10 building (private garage, carport, shed or the like) into habitable accommodation.  Refer to paragraph regarding change of class.

Requirements – smoke alarms & evacuation lighting

Smoke alarms must be installed in Class 1b buildings and be connected to the consumer mains power where consumer power is supplied to the building using the Australian Standard 3786 -2014.

Smoke alarms must be installed in every bedroom; and in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom, or if there is no corridor or hallway, in an area between the bedrooms and the remainder of the building; and on each other storey.

Emergency lighting must be installed to assist evacuation of occupants in the event of a fire and be activated by the smoke alarm. The Emergency light can be incorporated within the smoke alarm or an Emergency light fitting connected to the smoke alarm.

The owner must maintain both the smoke alarms and the emergency lighting as per the frequency of the Occupancy Permit schedule.


Maintenance of exits by occupiers of building

The owner of a Class 1b must ensure that:

(a) All exits; and

(b) Any paths of travel to exits; and

(c) Any paths of travel on the allotment from exits to a road – required to be provided in relation to that building or place are maintained in an efficient condition and kept readily accessible, functional and clear of obstruction so that egress from the building or place is maintained. 

Note - Deadlocks are prohibited on bedroom doors and required exit doors that lead out of the building.

Public Health Regulatory requirements

Any premises where four (4) or more persons are accommodated for a fee or reward other than the family of the proprietor is deemed to be Prescribed Accommodation (rooming house) and is required to be registered under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. 

Other classes of Prescribed Accommodation include residential accommodation, hotels, motels, hostels, student dormitories and holiday camps.  These premises are also required to be registered.

Application for registration

An online application can be made by visiting Council’s website. 

Pre-application form for new Prescribed Accommodation Premises 

The application includes the submission of a pre-application form and a floor plan of the premises drawn to scale of not less than 1:100 and showing the proposed use of each room, number of bedrooms, the size of each room and number of bathrooms. A fee is also applicable. 

Ongoing requirements

Once your premises is registered it will:

  • be inspected annually to ensure the accommodation complies with the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020.
  • renewed annually on 1 January each year.

Failure to register a rooming house

Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, failure to register a prescribed accommodation with their municipal Council may result in a penalty of 4 penalty units for an individual and 10 penalty units for a body corporate.

Community Health requirements

Register of occupants:

The proprietor must keep a register of occupants including:

  • the names and addresses of persons occupying the accommodation.
  • the dates of their arrival and departure.

This information must be kept for a minimum of 12 months after the date of the last entry in the register.

Prevention of overcrowding:

Any room with a floor area of less than 7.5 square meters must not be used as a bedroom. 

Rooms Sizes and duration of Stay

Number of people permitted to be accommodated in each bedroom for 31 days or less:

Floor Area

Maximum Persons

In the case of a bedroom with a floor area of less than 10 square metres


In the case of a bedroom with a floor area of 10 square metres or more:

  • plus an additional person for every 2 square metres of floor area that exceeds 10 square metres.



Number of people permitted to be accommodated in each bedroom for more than 31 days:

Floor Area

Maximum Persons

In the case of a bedroom with a floor area of less than 12 square metres


In the case of a bedroom with a floor area of 12 square meters or more:

  • plus an additional person for every 4 square meters of floor area that exceeds 12 square metres.



Maintenance and cleanliness

Residents have the right to a clean-living environment.  The proprietor must undertake but maintain all bedrooms, toilets, bathrooms, laundries, kitchens, living rooms and any common areas:   

  • in good working order
  • in a clean, sanitary and hygienic condition
  • in a good state of repair.

Water supply

The proprietor must:

  • provide a continuous and adequate supply of water to all toilet, bathing, kitchen, laundry and drinking water facilities
  • provide a continuous and adequate supply of hot water to all bathing, laundry and kitchen facilities
  • ensure water intended for drinking is fit for human consumption.

Waste receptacles and sewerage discharge

The proprietor must:

  • provide sufficient vermin-proof bins and ensure they are cleaned regularly
  • ensure rubbish is regularly removed by means of Council’s refuse collection service or a private contractor engaged by the proprietor
  • ensure that all sewage and wastewater is discharged to a sewerage system or an approved domestic wastewater disposal system.

Toilet and bathing facilities

A proprietor must provide at least 1 toilet, 1bath or shower and 1 hand washbasin for every 10 persons or fraction of that number of persons occupying the accommodation.  

Statutory Planning requirements

You need to know the zone of your land under the Maroondah Planning Scheme to assess Statutory Planning requirements for rooming houses.

Check VicPlan to find your Planning Scheme Zone

The use and development of land for a “rooming house” generally does not require planning approval in Maroondah provided it meets the requirements of Clause 52.23 of the Maroondah Planning Scheme which provides as follows:

Use exemption

Any requirement in the Activity Centre Zone, Capital City Zone, Commercial 1 Zone, General Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone or Township Zone to obtain a permit to use land for a rooming house does not apply if all the following requirements are met:

  • Any condition opposite the use ‘rooming house’ in the table of uses in the zone or schedule to the zone is met.
  • The total floor area of all buildings on the land does not exceed 300 square metres, excluding outbuildings.
  • No more than 12 persons are accommodated.
  • No more than 9 bedrooms are provided.

    Buildings and works exemption

 Any requirement in the General Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone or Township Zone to obtain a permit to construct a building or construct or carry out works for a rooming house does not apply if all the following requirements are met: 

  • No more than 9 bedrooms are developed on the land.
  • Bedrooms can only be accessed from within the building.
  • The total floor area of all buildings on the land does not exceed 300 square metres, excluding outbuildings.
  • If the development is in the General Residential Zone or Neighbourhood Residential Zone, a garden area is provided in accordance with the minimum garden area requirement specified in the zone.
  • Shared entry facilities and common areas, including a kitchen and living area, are provided.

If any if the above requirements are not met, then a planning permit may be required. We recommend that you contact Statutory Planning to discuss these requirements prior to operating a Rooming House.

Consumer Affairs Victoria requirements

In addition to complying with Council requirements, rooming house proprietors must also meet Consumer Affairs Victoria’s ‘Minimum Standards’ and have a Rooming house Operator’s License.  For more information, please visit Consumer Affairs Victoria website:

The rooming house operators licensing scheme, established under the Rooming House Operators Act 2016, came into effect on 26 April 2017. Rooming house operators must apply for, and be granted, a licence through CAV before they can start operating a rooming house. Further information can be found on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website

Useful Contacts for Rooming House Operators

 Consumer Affairs Victoria - 1300 55 81 81

 Housing Vic - 1300 650 172

 Tenants Victoria - 1800 068 860

 Residential Tenancies Bond Authority - 1300 137 164

 Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal - 1300 018 228

 Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission - 1300 292 153

For further information on rooming houses, please contact Maroondah Council on 1300 88 22 33.