Darwin Community Legal Service

Boarding and Lodging

Your rights under tenancy law will depend on whether you are a tenant, or a boarder or lodger. A boarder or a lodger may reside in a commercial boarding house, private accommodation, a hostel, or a motel or hotel. A boarder usually receives meals from their landlord, whereas a lodger will not.

Sub-tenant vs. boarder or lodger

Only some boarders and lodgers have tenancy rights. If you are one of 3 or more people (not including or in addition to the landlord or members of the landlord’s family) boarding or lodging at the property, and you have resided at the property for more than one week, the Residential Tenancies Act 1999 (NT) (‘the Act’) will apply to you as if you were a tenant.

If you are not a boarder or lodger covered by the Act or a sub-tenant, the Act does not apply to you.

Factors that may suggest that you are a boarder rather than a sub-tenant include:

  • if you receive services from the person you pay rent to (e.g. washing, ironing, meals);
  • If there are house rules (e.g. about visitors and times of entry/exit);
  • If you have not paid a security deposit; and if you have use of the premises but not control over it.

If you are a boarder or lodger not covered by the Act but have a written or verbal agreement with the owner of the premises you are living in, you may have rights in contract law. Your rights will depend on what was said or written down in the agreement.

If you are a boarder or a lodger and have a legal problem related to your housing situation, you can contact Darwin Community Legal Service.

Useful contacts

Darwin Community Legal Service

Freecall: 1800 812 953

Phone: (08) 8982 1111


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Darwin Community Legal Service 2015: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at November 2014.