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Types of share housing and how they differ

Winter 2017

Tenants are being urged to protect themselves and be aware of their rights and obligations in a share house situation.

Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) CEO, Darren Barlow said share housing arrangements could be complex and recommended checking with the RTA before signing an agreement.

"Share houses might be co-tenancies, multiple individual tenancies, sub-letting or could even be boarders or lodgers," Mr Barlow said.

Under co-tenancies, there is one tenancy agreement for all the tenants. Tenants are equally responsible for the rent and other obligations under the agreement; if one tenant does something wrong, all other tenants can be held responsible.

In the case of multiple individual tenancies, each tenant has a separate tenancy agreement with the property manager/owner and is only responsible for their own actions.

Sub-letting is where a tenant has a tenancy agreement with a property manager/owner, then establishes themselves as 'head tenant' by entering into a tenancy agreement with other tenants. Sub-tenants have no direct relationship with the property manager/owner and deal directly with the tenant named on the original agreement.

Boarders and lodgers usually only rent their room, share common areas such as bathrooms, and the property owner may live in the rental property with them. Depending on the circumstances, they may or may not be covered by tenancy laws.

Mr Barlow said a tenant cannot sub-let a property without the property manager/owner’s permission, and that the head tenant effectively becomes the sub-tenant’s 'landlord', taking on additional responsibilities.

"If the head tenant collects a bond from the sub-tenant, they must lodge it with the RTA within 10 days," he said.

"The RTA can, and does, prosecute head tenants who do not lodge these bonds with the RTA.

"One way to ensure your rights are protected and the agreement is lawful is to check with the RTA."

More information about tenancy and responsibilities is available by contacting the RTA direct on 1300 366 311.

The RTA is the Queensland Government statutory authority that administers the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. They provide tenancy information, bond management, dispute resolution, investigation, and policy and education services.