Affordable Housing
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Rooming Houses

What is a Rooming House?

Rooming houses (sometimes referred to also as boarding houses) generally provide housing for single people who (sometimes through disadvantage) may find it difficult to access other private rental housing or who prefer to live in a rooming house environment for social contact.

Rooming house accommodation traditionally involves residents renting bedrooms (rather than self-contained flats/units) and the use of shared common facilities such as bathrooms, lounges, kitchens, dining areas and laundries. Increasingly rooming houses include partially or fully self-contained bed sitters/studio units. Some may offer one bedroom units (particularly in the newer community managed properties). Rooming houses can be either apartment houses (without the provision of meals) and boarding houses (which provide at least one meal to tenants). Boarding houses are now very rare.

Rooming houses can be either privately owned and managed (also called 'Private Hotels') or publicly owned community housing managed by a community organisation.

While both can target low-income, disadvantaged and marginalised tenants, private rooming houses tend to be run on a for-profit basis as a business, often with on site managers and have a mix of short-term tenancies (including people coming off the street and sometimes some backpackers) and long-term tenancies. Their rents are usually based on market rates.

Community-based (public) rooming houses operate on a not-for-profit basis, generally focus on longer-term housing, are more careful with tenant selection and do not use on site managers. The community organisations operating in Port Phillip are Southport Community Housing Group, St Kilda Community Housing Ltd, Port Phillip Housing Association Ltd. and Community Housing Ltd. Port Phillip Housing Strategy 2007-17

All rooming houses catering for 4 or more people must be formally registered under the Victorian Health Act 1958. Rooming Houses must also comply with the Health (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulation 2001. Registration and further general information can be obtained from Council's Health Services Unit on 9209 6292 or refer to the Prescribed Accommodation page. 

Rooming Houses in Port Phillip

Port Phillip's private rooming houses are steadily closing due to the impact of gentrification. As a result, the City of Port Phillip supports the maintenance of private rooming houses and the provision of publicly owned-community managed rooming houses. This support is through strategies such as:

  • Encouraging the retention of existing private rooming houses
  • Encouraging the provision of new, private rooming houses
  • Facilitating new community managed rooming houses
  • Providing new publicly owned-community managed rooming houses under the City of Port Phillip Community Housing Program. Port Phillip Housing Strategy 2007-17

Rooming House Survival Guide

Produced by St Kilda Community Housing, with a tenants' advisory group. The guide contains contact details for health agencies, drug, alcohol and gambling hotlines and community centres as well as maps of local areas and public transport details. The guide is interactive, with links to other websites with detailed information.

Download the Rooming House Survival Guide (PDF 2.57MB)

Contact Details for Community Rooming Houses in Port Phillip

Port Phillip Housing Association Ltd Port Phillip Housing Association Ltd
Suite 6/22-28 Fitzroy Street St Kilda  
Tel: 9534 5837

St. Kilda Community Housing Ltd
2 Fitzroy Street St Kilda  
Tel: 9534 1809

Southport Community Housing Group
259 Dorcas Street Sth Melbourne  
Tel: 9696 1128

Community Housing Ltd
9 Prospect Street, Box Hill  
Tel: 9856 0050

The Port Phillip Housing Program

Through replacing private rooming houses with permanent, affordable, well designed and community managed rooming houses, the loss rate of total rooming houses is being slowed. The Port Phillip Housing Association has eight community managed rooming houses under its community housing program. These are:

  • Broxted (East St Kilda)
  • Ravelston (Elwood)
  • Excelsior Hall (Port Melbourne)
  • the former St Kilda fire station (Elwood)
  • John Cribbes House (Balaclava)
  • The Regal (St Kilda)
  • Chelmsford, (St Kilda)
  • Woodstock (Balaclava)

In 2005 Port Phillip Housing Association became a registered Affordable Housing Association and is now developing 3 new community housing projects, one of which is the Pyrmont rooming house in St Kilda.

Overview and Select Project Summaries

In addition Southport Community Housing Group manage 14 Rooming Houses across Port and South Melbourne, and St Kilda Community Housing Ltd manage 20 rooming houses in St Kilda.

Contact us or use eServices to ask us a question, request information or give us feedback online about rooming houses. If you prefer phone ASSIST on (03) 9209 6777 and ask for the Housing Development Officer.