Under the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020, certain types of commercial accommodation (hotels and motels, hostels, student dormitories, holiday camps, rooming houses and residential accommodation (certain forms) are regulated as ‘prescribed accommodation’. Prescribed accommodation providers are required to meet hygiene, maintenance and other standards and requirements intended to minimise public health risk that may arise from shared use of facilities, high turnover of occupants and/or overcrowding.
Objective of the Regulations
The objective of the regulations is to prescribe matters required, permitted or necessary to be prescribed to give effect to the prescribed accommodation provisions, with the objective of minimising public health risks associated with prescribed accommodation.
The Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 have been made and replace the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2009.
The exposure draft of the regulations and associated regulatory impact statement were released for public consultation between 16 September 2020 and 15 October 2020. Thirty-three submissions were received from a wide variety of stakeholders, including large and small accommodation providers, advocates for occupants of prescribed accommodation, local councils and other regulators. The submissions were carefully considered. A Response to public submissions-Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 that provides a statement of reasons addressing issues raised in the submissions as part of the consultation process is attached below.
The regulations have been made with mainly minor and technical amendments to improve clarity, operation and practicality. Amendments include changes to:
- Provide consistency with other regulatory regimes, such as incorporating by reference the definition of ‘rooming house’ in section 3(1) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. Consistent with the definition in the Residential Tenancies Act, specialist disability accommodation (SDA) enrolled dwellings as defined under that Act will be excluded from the definition of prescribed accommodation.
As a consequence of adopting the definition of ‘rooming house’ in the Residential Tenancies Act, premises declared as rooming houses by the Minister for Housing under the Residential Tenancies Act will be within the scope of the regulations under certain circumstances. Please see the section on this page about clarification of scope and application from 12 June 2021.
- Providing drafting clarification and modernising language such as including within the definition of ‘residential accommodation’, ‘part’ of a house, building, or other structure used as a place of abode where people can live on payment of consideration, and updating the terminology of ‘self-contained flat’ to ‘self-contained apartment’.
Further amendments are identified in the Response to public submissions-Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 referred to below.
The regulations came into effect on 13 December 2020 apart from the application of the regulations to rooming houses declared by the Minister for Housing under the Residential Tenancies Act.
Additionally, the Department of Health will undertake a further 5-year review of these regulations given several current and impending cross-portfolio reviews that intersect with prescribed accommodation. This review will provide an opportunity to address any outstanding concerns as well as recommendations from the cross-portfolio reviews.
The Department of Health would like to thank everyone who provided input into the regulations over the last few years, including those who made written submissions through the sunset review process.
Amended definition of rooming house
The definition of rooming house in the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 has been amended, to clarify the scope and application to rooming houses declared by the Minister for Housing under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA). The changes commence on 12 June 2021.
The clarification only applies to rooming houses declared by the Minister for Housing under the RTA.
What are Ministerial declared rooming houses?
These are declared by the Minister for Housing under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and are gazetted. There are two types:
- Buildings with less than 4 occupants renting rooms; and
- Buildings containing self-contained apartments.
There are currently around 300 Ministerial declared rooming houses in Victoria. Homes Victoria within Department of Families, Fairness and Housing is currently working with the registered community housing sector to review and update the list of these buildings.
What clarification has been made to the regulations with respect to Ministerial declared rooming houses?
The amended definition will clarify the circumstances in which a rooming house declared by the Minister for Housing under the RTA is not included within scope for the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 (highlighted below). This change does not impact the first part of the definition of a rooming house (denoted as unchanged below).
In summary, from 12 June 2021, a ‘rooming house’ under the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 is:
- a building where 4 or more occupants can live in rented rooms (unchanged); or
- a Ministerial declared rooming house, but does not apply if the building has: less than 4 occupants; or 4 or more occupants who all reside in self-contained apartments.
Why has this clarification been made?
The change in the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 definition:
- clarifies the application and scope of declared rooming houses in the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 so that regulation is proportionate and consistent with public health risk
- provides clarity and consistency with the existing regulatory environment.
What does this mean for stakeholders?
Stakeholders such as community housing organisations (which operate Ministerial declared rooming houses) and council regulators should be aware of the changes.
The requirements under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 will apply if the Ministerial declared rooming house does not meet the circumstances for exclusion.
For more information and the exact wording in the legislation, please refer to the Victorian Legislation website. Search ‘In Force’ from 12 June 2021.
Contact name: Health Protection Branch, the Department of Health
Privacy collection statement
Participation in this consultation is voluntary.
The Department of Health and Human Services (the department) collects and handles your information in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and the Health Records Act 2001.
The information you provide in your submission will be considered by the department in providing advice to the Minister for Health to finalise the proposed Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 and may be shared with the Minister for Health and other relevant Ministers.
All submissions will be treated as public documents unless the person making the comment or submission requests that it not be publicly available. Submissions and comments may be published with your name and contact details and your organisation’s name, and contact details. If you request that your submission not be publicly available, your feedback will be drawn upon but not published or directly quoted. Your contact details may be used for consultation follow up and notifying you of the outcomes of the consultation, including notification about the publication of a statement of reasons regarding the form of the final regulations.
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Comments and submissions will also be provided to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC) of Parliament after the Regulations are made, in accordance with the requirements of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994.
If you agree, your submission, including name and contact details, may be provided to other Government departments or Victorian statutory bodies carrying out cross-portfolio reviews as identified in the regulatory impact statement.
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You may contact the Health Protection Branch of the department at PHWA.Enquiries@dhhs.vic.gov.au. or you may contact the department’s Information Sharing and Privacy team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.