Boarders & Lodgers


Lodging house, boarding house and rooming house are all terms used to describe accommodation that provides a furnished room with shared use of other facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom.  If meals are provided, it may be referred to as a hostel or boarding house, rather than a lodging house.  Lodging and boarding houses provide accessible, affordable and flexible accommodation for individuals who may be unable to secure or maintain private, self-contained accommodation.  Yet, the conditions of many lodging houses are substandard and boarders and lodgers are not adequately protected against unscrupulous landlords.  Boarders and Lodgers are sometimes included in the broader category of those living in what is termed marginal tenures .


  • On Census night in 2011, there were 1,336 people living in boarding houses in WA.


  • Boarders and lodgers are not protected under the Residential Tenancies Act in WA.  Therefore, boarders and lodgers have no security of tenure, standard of tenancy, rent changes and terms of eviction provided to other renters.


  • Traditionally, lodging houses have been occupied by single people, mostly men, who were unable to secure more stable housing arrangements.  More recently, international students in WA enter into boarding and lodging situations.  It is estimated that 60% of international students are in the private rental market, many of whom enter into boarding and lodging arrangements. [i]   While these groups face different issues, they both face insecure housing tenure since they are not protected under the Residential Tenancies Agreement.


  • On Census night in 2011, 1,235 people were marginally housed in caravan parks.  There are 223 caravan parks in WA.  Many of these are exclusively for short stays although some allow people to stay on a more permanent basis.  The Department of Commerce estimates there are approximately 20,000 people living in caravan parks as long-stay tenants.  People living in caravan parks permanently also have few legal protections.  The Department of Commerce is currently reviewing the Residential Parks (Long-Stay Tenants) Act 2006.


  • While some people may choose to live in such accommodation, boarding houses and caravan parks can often be the housing of last resort for individuals on the verge of homelessness. [ii]


  • The demand for marginal accommodation in boarding houses and caravan parks is likely to increase over time for a number of reasons, including the lack of affordable housing overall and the growing numbers of low income and single person households.  There is also an increase in the casualisation and mobility of the workforce, which may lead to higher demand for lodging houses.  In addition, there are more people with support needs and fewer family and personal resources to meet those needs. 



Tenancy WA and Shelter WA have recently reformed the Boarders and Lodgers Working Group. This group consists of tenant advocates, university housing officers, community housing providers, and community organisations interested in advocating for consumer protection for boarders and lodgers in WA.  Contact Shelter WA to get involved 9325 6660 or .

Phone 1300 30 40 54 (13 36 77 for the hearing impaired)

The peak organisation representing 28 Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in WA 

CLC directory

  • Eastern Suburbs:

Midland Information Debt & Legal Advocacy Service (Midland) 9250 2123

  • North Central Suburbs: 

Welfare Rights & Advocacy Service (Perth) 9328 1751

  • Northern Suburbs:  

Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre (Mirrabooka) 9440 1663 

Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre (Joondalup) 9301 4413

  • South Central Suburbs: 

Sussex Street Community Law Service (East Victoria Park) 6253 9500

  • South Eastern Suburbs:

Gosnells Community Legal Centre (Gosnells) 9398 1455

  • South Western Suburbs:

Southern Communities Advocacy & Legal Education Services (Rockingham) 9550 0400

  • Western Suburbs:

Fremantle Community Legal Centre (Fremantle) 9432 9790

  • Regional Community Legal Centres
  • Goldfields:  

Goldfields Community Legal Centre (Goldfields) 9021 1888

Goldfields Community Legal Centre (Country call) 1300 139 188

  • Great Southern: 

Albany Community Legal Centre (Albany) 9842 8566

  • Kimberley:  

Kimberley Community Legal Services (Kimberley) 9169 3100

Kimberley Community Legal Services (Country call) 1800 686 020

  • Mid West / Gascoyne:  

Geraldton Resource Centre (Geraldton) 9938 0600

  • Peel:  

Peel Community Legal Services (Mandurah) 9581 4511

  • Pilbara: 

Pilbara Community Legal Service (Karratha) 9185 5899

Pilbara Community Legal Service (Newman) 9177 8708

Pilbara Community Legal Service (Roebourne) 9182 1169

Pilbara Community Legal Service (South Hedland) 9140 1613

  • South West:

Accord West (Bunbury) 9729 9000

Accord West (Freecall) 1800 115 799

  • Wheatbelt:

Rural Community Legal Services (Northam) 9622 5200


Last updated March 2015

[i] Lloyd, D. and L. Drozdowski (2011) International Students and the Perth Rental Market: Reflections on available statistics , WA Department of Education Services.

[ii] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness 2011 , Cat. no. 2049.0. Canberra, A.C.T: Author

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