Reprinted from Tenant’s Union NSW: tenants.org.au/factsheet-15-share-housing

People in share housing usually have their own bedroom and share the rest of the premises. Your rights and obligations will depend on your legal status. Sub-tenants have rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. Boarders and lodgers do not.

Sub-tenant

You are considered a ‘sub-tenant’ if you are sharing with a tenant (their name is on the tenancy agreement for the premises) who has sub-let part of the premises to you under a separate written agreement. That person is a head-tenant. You have the rights and obligations of a tenant in relation to the head-tenant – that person is your landlord. Be aware ‘sub-tenant’ is different than being a ‘co-tenant’. You are considered a ‘co-tenant’ where your name is on the tenancy agreement along with your housemates and you share the rights and obligations with the other co-tenant(s).

Changing occupants – transfer or sub-letting

A tenant may transfer their tenancy under the tenancy agreement, or sub-let part of the premises, to another person with the landlord’s written consent. If at least one original tenant on the tenancy agreement remains, the landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent.

If the landlord withholds consent, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for an order that allows the transfer or sub-letting. The Tribunal will decide if the landlord’s withholding consent is unreasonable.
The landlord may withhold consent however, on some specific grounds (e.g. to comply with planning laws).

You can download a sample sub-letting agreement at tenants.org.au/share-housing-agreement.

Rent receipts

Whatever your tenancy status, you should get a receipt when you pay rent – unless you pay into a bank account.

Bond money

Change of co-tenants If the tenants on the bond lodgement form change, fill in a ‘Change of Shared Tenancy Arrangement’ form (from NSW Fair Trading – NSWFT). Have it signed by the person/s moving out, the person/s moving in and the landlord/agent. Return the form to Fair Trading. Even if you do not fill in a form, get a receipt from whomever you paid the bond to.

If you can, get a statutory declaration from the person who has moved out, stating that they got their bond back. This may help you claim back your bond if the tenancy agreement ends while you live at the premises.
The head-tenant must deposit your bond money with Fair Trading. They must also give you a receipt – unless details of the payment are recorded in your tenancy agreement.

Leaving

If the other occupants want you to leave, the head-tenant must give you a 90-day termination notice during a periodic agreement, or a 30-day termination notice at any time before the end of a fixed-term agreement. If you want to leave, you must give the head-tenant a 21-day termination notice under a periodic agreement, or a 14-day termination notice before the end of a fixed-term agreement.

Paying bills

If you have a contract with a phone, power, TV or internet service or supplier, you must ensure the bills are paid. If someone does not pay their share of the bills – except for electricity bills – you can take action in a Local Court to get the money back. See the chamber registrar at a Local Court, or contact a Community Legal Centre for advice.

Resolving disputes

Speak with your head tenant about your rights as a subtenant. Keep a written record of any conversation you have or agreement that you make. If your head tenant refuses, get advice from your local tenant advocate about making a complaint or going to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. You can apply to the Tribunal to resolve certain kinds of disputes with your head-tenant. Contact your local TAAS for advice.