Change text size:   Increase font size   Reduce font size  |   Print page:   Print this page
  |   Contact us   

Boarding houses 

A boarding house provides accommodation for a fee. Boarding houses are sometimes called lodging houses. A boarding house resident does not have the same control over the premises as a tenant does. Often a resident of a boarding house only has a right to occupy a room and to share other facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom.

The Boarding Houses Act 2012 aims to improve the standards of registered boarding houses by:

  • establishing a publicly available register of registrable boarding houses in NSW
  • increasing inspection powers for local councils
  • introducing occupancy rights for people living in boarding houses
  • modernising the laws that apply to boarding houses accommodating people with ‘additional needs’.


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).

Top of page

What is the Boarding House Register? 

It is a publicly available register 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.

Top of page

Local council inspections 

Local councils have the primary role in approving new boarding houses and inspecting and enforcing safety and accommodation standards in existing boarding houses. They also have the power to fine operators of unregistered boarding houses or to issue orders for boarding houses to meet certain building, safety and accommodation standards.

If you have a concern about a boarding house in your local area, you can contact your local council. The Local Government Directory provides contact details for all councils in NSW. It is available from the Division of Local Government website.

Fair Trading and ADHC have developed a Guide for Councils (PDF size: 500kb) for local council inspectors which contains relevant contact and background information on the Act and the Regulation. The Boarding house inspections factsheet (PDF size: 170kb) provides information for councils on developing a boarding house inspection program. An Inspection report template (RTF size: 160kb) is also available.

Top of page

Swimming pools  

If the boarding house has a swimming pool, the pool must meet pool barrier requirements. Please visit the pool safety checklists page on the Swimming Pool Register for further information. 

Pool owners are required to register their pool with the NSW Government's Swimming Pool Register and comply with pool safety laws. 

The sale of property with swimming or spa pools is subject to NSW conveyancing laws. More information about conveyancing requirements is available on the NSW Land and Property Information website.

Top of page

Where can I get more information about the laws? 

The full text of the Boarding Houses Act 2012 and the Boarding House Regulation 2013 can be viewed or downloaded from the NSW Legislation website.

Top of page

Download copies of the 'Living in a boarding house' brochure 

This brochure explains the basic rights of boarding house residents and where to get more information. You can download and print Living in a boarding house? in PDF format (size: 1.45mb).

Top of page

Get a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader so you can access PDF versions of our information.