Boarding houses

NCAT can determine occupancy disputes between residents and proprietors of registrable boarding houses.

Boarding houses cases are managed through NCAT's Consumer and Commercial Division.

Boarding house disputes may relate to the state of the premises, fees and charges, inspections and repairs, access to goods and notices of eviction.

What is a registrable boarding house

​General Boarding House – Premises accommodating 5 or more paying residents (excluding the proprietor, manager or their relatives).

Assisted Boarding House – Premises accommodating 2 or more residents with additional needs (someone with an age-related frailty or a permanent mental illness or disability, who needs support or supervision with daily tasks and personal care).

A registrable boarding house does not include:

  • hotels, motels or bed and breakfast accommodation
  • backpacker hostels
  • serviced apartments
  • accommodation for workers or employees in connection with their employment
  • school accommodat​ion
  • public hospitals, health or residential care facilities
  • retirement villages or nursing homes
  • mental health facilities
  • refuge or crisis accommodation
  • other premises prescribed by the Act or regulations.

Contact NSW Fair Trading if you are unsure whether the premises is a registrable boarding house.

How to apply

A boarding house resident or proprietor (or former resident or former proprietor) can lodge an application to NCAT about a boarding house occupancy principles dispute.


Fees are payable for boarding house applications. View our fees and charges or apply for a fee waiver.

Urgent applications

If your dispute is about an urgent issue such being locked out of the premises, you can request an urgent hearing. Clearly mark your application form 'URGENT' and attach a letter explaining why your matter is urgent. If granted, an urgent hearing can be held within 1 to 7 days depending upon the urgency. Learn more about making an urgent application.

What happens next

After lodging the application form you can expect a first hearing within 3 weeks.

Dispute resolution process

Boarding house applications are listed for conciliation and hearing within 3 weeks from when the application is lodged.


Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution process which brings the parties together to talk about their issue and reach an agreement. All parties must attempt conciliation before the hearing can take place.

Parties are usually directed to a separate room or area outside the hearing room where they discuss the issues in dispute, show each other their evidence, negotiate differences and discuss possible solutions. If an agreement is reached it is made into a legally binding 'consent order'.

Learn more about conciliation.


A Tribunal Member presides over the hearing where parties are given the opportunity to put forward their case and present their evidence. The Tribunal Member will generally make a decision and final orders at the end of the hearing.

Hearings are listed with a number of other matters in a 'group list'. Be prepared to have other people in the hearing room when you are presenting your case.

Learn more about how to prepare for your hearing.

Can someone represent me at the hearing?

NCAT is designed for people to represent themselves at hearing. This ensures the dispute is resolved efficiently and inexpensively. However, if you want to be represented you need to apply in writing before the matter is heard or apply in person at the hearing. Learn more about representation.

Evidence and supporting materials

At the NCAT hearing you will need to provide evidence to support your case. Examples of evidence and supporting materials for a boarding house dispute include:

  • copy of the occupancy agreement
  • receipts for occupancy fees, security deposit and utility charges
  • notice of termination
  • copies of all correspondence between parties
  • repayment plan, if you have negotiated a repayment arrangement to clear unpaid occupancy fees
  • photographs showing the condition and state of repair of the boarding house premises
  • statements, statutory declarations or affidavits from witnesses or other interested persons.

Evidence and documents are provided to the other party. You should not provide any information you do not want disclosed to the other party. Learn more about evidence and witnesses.

Orders NCAT can make

Under the Boarding Houses Act 2012 NCAT can make the following orders:

  • an order to stop any action that breaches the occupancy principles
  • an order that requires an action in performance of the occupancy principles
  • an order for compensation
  • an order for payment or part-payment of occupancy fee to NCAT until the dispute is resolved
  • an order that the proprietor enter into a written occupancy agreement.

Boarding house proprietors must enter into a written occupancy agreement with each occupant. If the parties do not already have a written agreement, a proprietor must enter into a written agreement by no later than 1 October 2013. NCAT cannot hear or determine applications for an order requiring a written occupancy agreement until after 1 October 2013.

Enforcing NCAT orders

Orders made by NCAT are final and binding and are legally enforceable. Orders may be made for the payment of money, for a party to carry out the occupancy principles or to stop doing something.

Learn more about enforcing NCAT orders.


Boarding Houses Act 2012

Organisations that can help

NCAT cannot provide legal advice. Find out how we can and cannot assist. Below are some organisations that can provide help or advice about your case.

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