Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) a rooming house proprietor has the following obligations.
Rent and other charges
A rooming house proprietor must not receive extra payments (other than rent and/or a bond) as a condition to entering into, renewing or extending a rooming house agreement.
Whilst a rooming house proprietor must bear all statutory charges in relation to the premises they can require residents to make payments for:
- rates and charges for water supply; or
- the provision of electricity, gas or telephone services; or
- meals or other facilities or services (e.g. meals, cleaning, laundry) provided by the proprietor.
The proprietor must inform the resident in writing, and before the facilities or services are provided to the resident, of the basis on which the charges will be made [see s 105E(3)]. The rooming house proprietor must also provide an itemised account setting out their use of the facilities or services before requiring payment [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 105E(4)].
A proprietor cannot demand more than one weeks rent in advance [s 105F]. Nor can they require a resident to pay by post-dated cheque.
At the request of a resident, a proprietor must, within 7 days, provide a statement to the resident outlining the payment the resident has made, and include information such as the date the payment was received, the amount paid, and whether the payment relates to rent, bond or for facilities and services [see s 105G].
A proprietor must not take or dispose of a resident's property or goods on account of any rent or amount owing to the proprietor. Maximum penalty: $5000 [see s 105T].
A rooming house proprietor cannot require more than one bond for the same rooming house agreement nor can they require the payment of a bond which totals more than two weeks of rent under the agreement [s 105K].
A receipt must be provided within 48 hours of payment. The bond must then be lodged with the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs within 4 weeks of receipt (if the person receiving it is a registered agent) or within 2 weeks (if the person receiving it is not a registered agent) [see Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 105L; Residential Tenancies Regulations 2010 (SA) reg 9].
Access and use of room and facilities
The proprietor must not unreasonably restrict or interfere with the quiet enjoyment, comfort of privacy of facilities or the resident’s room by the resident. They must ensure that the resident has reasonable access at all times to their room and to toilet and bathroom facilities.
When exercising their right of entry to the resident’s room, they must do so in a reasonable manner and not stay in the room longer than necessary to achieve the purpose of entry without the resident’s consent.
A proprietor who breaches any of these terms is guilty of an offence for which the maximum penalty is $2 500 [s 105N].
It is a term of a rooming house agreement that a proprietor take reasonable steps to provide and maintain locks and other devices necessary to ensure each resident can make his/her room reasonably secure.
Neither the proprietor nor the resident can alter or remove a lock or security device without the consent of the other; nor can they unreasonably withhold their consent to the alteration or removal of a lock or security device.
The proprietor has an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure the security of personal property and to that end must provide each resident with a lockable cupboard (or something similar) within their room for use by in securing personal property [s 105O].
Repairs and cleanliness
The proprietor must hand over the room to the resident in a reasonable state of cleanliness, and ensure that that the resident’s room and any shared facilities are kept in a reasonable state of repair and cleanliness. If renovations are to be carried out, at least 14 days notice must be given. Where repairs are required to shared bathroom, toilet or laundry facilities the proprietor must minimise any inconvenience or disruption to residents and, if necessary, provide temporary substitute facilities.
Where repairs are required the resident must notify the proprietor of the defect requiring repair. A proprietor will not be found to be in breach of their obligation to repair if they were not notified of the defect [s 105P].
Sale of rooming house
If the proprietor intends to sell the rooming house they must give the residents written notice no later than 14 days after entering into a sales agency agreement. The rooming house cannot be advertised for sale or made available for inspection by prospective purchasers until 14 days after the residents have been notified of the intention to sell [s 105Q].
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