Rooming houses

Rooming houses

Are you considering renting out rooms in your house for accommodation? If so, special building regulations may apply and you may require a building permit.

What is a rooming house?

A rooming house is a building, usually a house in a residential area, where one or more rooms is available for rent and where the number of people occupying the property is four or more. Residents will have exclusive possession of their own room and the right to share common areas like kitchens, bathrooms and loungerooms with other residents.

In our area, it is most often seasonal workers from overseas and from Australia who live in this type of accommodation, due to their short-term needs and the affordability of rooming houses.

Requirements for registration

Rooming houses must meet a range of Health, Building and Planning rules. Some examples are below, but you should download the full requirements and contact Council to discuss your individual property and these regulations.

For example, rooming houses MUST:

  • Be registered with Council
  • Provide a clean-living environment, including adequate ventilation, continuous and adequate hot and cold water supply, clean drinking water, regular rubbish collection, adequate sewerage and water discharge, and vermin-proof bins that are emptied regularly.
  • Provide at least one toilet, one bath/shower and one wash basin for every 10 people
  • Comply with regulated room sizes, based on number of occupants and length of stay
  • Comply will Local Laws around use of caravans in residential areas
  • Have appropriate Building Permits
  • Have the regulated number of stand-alone, hard-wired smoke alarms, and other fire safety measures

For a more detailed rooming house regulations please download:


Council officers will initially work with owners/proprietors to achieve compliance. However, where necessary, might need to use a number of enforcement options. This includes issuing of orders/notices to upgrade safety measures of the building, prohibit occupation and remedy any breaches of standards under the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations and the Planning Scheme. Council may also serve an infringement notice for offences, including operating an unregistered business.

To talk about your property or report a potential rooming house contact
Public Health Services
Phone: (03) 5036 2591

Application and Checklist

Fees and charges

Building permit fees are to be paid upon lodgement of your building permit application.

Please contact the Building Department for advice on the building permit fees.
Building Department
Phone: (03) 5036 2396

Building inspections

Inspections are an important and mandatory part of the permit process.

The following compulsory inspections are required for all new building work:

  • Before placing footing (foundation excavations, stump holes, slab steel reinforcement).
  • Completion of framework (sub-floor frame through to roof structure).
  • Final inspection on completion of all building work (before occupation and/or use of the building).
Arrange a building inspections by contacting our building department during office hours. Please quote your building permit number. A minimum of 24 hours notice is needed.
Building Department
Phone: (03) 5036 2396

Essential Safety Measures maintenance

Owners of commercial and accommodation buildings of Class 2-9 must maintain all Essential Safety Measures that are installed in a building.

Essential Safety Measures include:

  • Fire hydrants
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire hose reels
  • Emergency lighting and exit signs
  • Smoke detection systems
  • Fire sprinkler systems
  • Paths of travel to exits
  • Exit doors

Building of Class 2-9 are:

  • Multi-storey buildings
  • Dwelling units
  • Motels
  • Guest house
  • Offices
  • Shops
  • Warehouses
  • Factories
  • Hospitals
  • Public buildings
  • Schools

If your building was constructed or altered after 1 July, 1994, all essential safety measures will be listed on your Occupancy Permit. This permit will also detail the level and frequency required for this maintenance.

For buildings constructed before 1 July, 1994, any essential safety measure installed in the building must be maintained to ensure it functions properly.

The Victorian Building Authority’s Essential Safety Measures Maintenance Manual sets out all the requirements and responsibilities of property owners.