Across Australia, there are no hard and fast rules about how many people can live in a rental property, but it’s an issue property owners need to understand and monitor.
Overloaded rentals can lead to more noise for neighbours and more importantly from a landlord’s perspective, increased wear and tear, which in turn means more repairs.
But the in the absence of black and white laws around the number of people that can live in a rental, landlords can take note of three important points to help them better protect their properties.
1. The general rule of thumb is one person or couple per room
Trish Mewett, a Jim’s Real Estate franchisor, explained that while most properties are designed with a number of occupants in mind, there are no set limits when it comes to renting out a house or apartment.
“In most states, under the Residential Tenancies Act, there isn’t a limit on how many people can reside in a house, but the general rule of thumb is one person or couple per room,” Ms Mewett said.
“With children, there is a slight exception, because if they’re younger, a room layout often allows for flexibility or the use of multiple bedding.”
2. A tenancy agreement is key to controlling numbers
The best way for owners to control the number of people living in a property is via the tenancy agreement, which must list all occupants.
Bessie Hassan, a money expert at finder.com.au, said tenants risk breaching their agreement if they have too many people sharing the space.
“The tenancy agreement is just that – an agreement – on everything including how many people will occupy the premises. If it’s ‘overloaded’ in relation to that agreement, the landlord could seek the eviction of the tenants,” she said.
Some jurisdictions have rules for different types of “lodging situations”, Ms Mewett added. In New South Wales, for example, it’s possible to have up to four tenancies in a single property. “So, if you have a house with four bedrooms, you can lease it out as the landlord to four different tenants on four different leases.”
If a landlord wants more than four, the property has to be converted into a boarding house, which is another classification entirely.
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“In South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, multiple occupants who are not related fall under the Rooming Act, which may enable you to have up to nine different tenancies in a property. Always check state legislation to confirm what may apply though,” Ms Mewett said.
3. The fewer tenants, the better
As a general rule, the more tenants, the more work – both physical and in terms of management – is required, Ms Mewett said. So landlords should be across the issue, in order to protect their investment.
With every extra occupant, there will be more wear and tear on fixed items such as flooring and cupboards, as well as “serviceable” items like taps and ovens.
“Also, there is a higher chance of internal disputes amongst tenants and therefore increased chance of unruly behaviour,” she added.
“It’s important to remember when dealing with tenancies to ensure you know your facts, especially knowing what you can and can’t allow.”