As Darebin’s community health provider, we deliver services and supports to people living in rooming houses across the North-East Melbourne area. Living conditions in these properties are often poor, and long-term tenancy hard to secure. We see the impact that this has on residents’ health and wellbeing and sent a submission to The Commissioner for Residential Tenancies advocating for changes that improve rooming house living conditions and promote tenants’ safety and rights through improved standards and regulations.
Rooming houses are an integral component within Victoria’s housing system, keeping many people from entering homelessness and often providing accessible housing options for people that may experience barriers to private rental and social housing. Most often accommodating people that have experienced hardship and disadvantage, rooming houses are also utilised as short-term options for international students or transient workers.
Despite being a positive housing option for some, there are many systemic issues that result in the poor living conditions of rooming houses, including the lack of funded support, the low regulatory standards and the complexity of multiple legislative frameworks causing confusion on rights, roles, and responsibilities. Additionally, there are many unregistered rooming houses that are unregulated, often resulting in poorer living conditions, reduced resident rights and potential exploitation.
The link between inadequate housing and poor health is well documented. To achieve healthy communities, housing needs to be safe, affordable, and secure. Changes to standards and increased support would enhance safety and overall conditions in rooming houses, consequently improving the health and wellbeing of residents.