Boarding houses and co‑living housing provide compact rental accommodation for a range of occupants, with minimum tenancies of 3 months.
Both housing types are typically built in well-connected areas, where residents have convenient access to work, study and recreation opportunities.
There are maximum room sizes for private rooms to make a clear distinction between apartments in a residential flat building and these housing types. The smaller room sizes are offset by the shared spaces and communal facilities provided in these developments.
One key difference between boarding houses and co-living housing is that boarding houses are a type of affordable housing that must be managed by registered community housing providers in perpetuity. Co‑living housing has no affordability requirement.
Another difference is that boarding houses receive a larger density bonus (25% above the floor space ratio standard) compared with co-living housing, which attracts a 10% bonus. Boarding houses attract the higher density bonus to encourage development of this affordable housing product.
Co-living housing must contain at least 6 private rooms and include key features such as fully furnished, ready-to-occupy private and shared spaces. A manager, who is responsible for the shared spaces, should actively encourage a sense of community. Co‑living housing often appeals to young professionals and key workers.
Under the Housing SEPP, boarding houses:
- must be used for affordable housing in perpetuity
- must be managed by a registered community housing provider in perpetuity
- attract a 25% floor space ratio bonus (on land where residential flat buildings are permitted with consent)
- can provide private room sizes ranging from 12 m2 for a single person or 16 to 25 m2 for a couple, excluding any space used for private kitchen or bathroom facilities
- must meet minimum standards for communal living areas, communal open space and landscaping
- must demonstrate compatibility with the character of the local area or the desired future character for areas under transition.
The NSW Land and Housing Corporation and the Aboriginal Housing Office can self-assess some boarding house proposals. Development consent is required for all other boarding house and co-living housing development.
Some of the planning provisions for boarding houses are being reviewed. Learn more about this review on the NSW Planning Portal.
Co-living housing was introduced to the NSW planning system when the Housing SEPP was made in November 2021.
Under the Housing SEPP, co‑living housing:
- is subject to similar built-form development standards as boarding houses
- must provide a primary place of residence for all occupants – it may not be used for short-term tourist and visitor accommodation
- may have as few as 6 private rooms (but most co-living housing developments will typically have about 30 to 40 private rooms)
- must provide indoor and outdoor communal space for residents to relax and socialise
- must have a manager, who will be responsible for implementing the plan of management for the property. The manager does not have to be always on site but must be contactable by phone 24/7.
Frequently asked questions
Boarding houses must provide affordable housing in perpetuity and must be managed by registered community housing providers (CHPs). Registered CHPs must apply the NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines. These requirements are enforced through conditions of development consent.
Land and Housing Corporation and the Aboriginal Housing Office can self-assess their boarding house developments because:
- they deliver social housing, which is a strategic priority in the government’s 10-year vision for social housing, Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW
- they both have published guidelines that inform the design and assessment of their developments
- from 1 July 2022, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 requires these agencies to publish certain information about self-assessed developments with a capital investment value over $5 million on their websites or the NSW Planning Portal.
Land and Housing Corporation boarding house developments that are being self-assessed must consider Good design for social housing (PDF, 3.5 MB) and Land and Housing Corporation Dwelling Requirements (PDF, 421 KB), both dated September 2020.
Aboriginal Housing Office boarding house developments that are being self-assessed must address the relevant provisions of the Aboriginal Housing Design Guidelines, dated January 2020.
Boarding houses are no longer mandated as a permissible use in the R2 Low Density Residential zone. The change seeks to reduce the impact of boarding house development on the local character of low-density areas. Impacts include privacy, noise, loss of enjoyment of private open space, loss of on-street car parking and traffic impacts.
Some councils have elected to permit boarding houses in the R2 zone through their local environmental plans. To find out if boarding houses are permitted in the R2 zone for your local area, check the local environmental plan on the NSW Legislation website.
The parking rate for these housing types is:
- 0.2 spaces per room in accessible areas
- 0.5 spaces per room in other locations.
If the council specifies a lower parking rate in a local environmental plan or development control plan, that lower rate applies.
Establishing a low minimum parking rate aims to encourage the development of boarding houses in well-located areas and support active and public transport use.
An amendment to the Housing SEPP on 1 July 2022 removed numerical standards for motorcycle and bicycle parking from the SEPP. The relevant consent authority now needs to be satisfied that there is adequate bicycle and motorcycle parking, but the SEPP no longer specifies a minimum number of spaces.
Amendments were made on 1 July 2022 to simplify the minimum lot sizes for co-living housing and boarding houses.
The minimum lot size on land zoned R2 is now 600 m2 and 800 m2 on all other land.
The minimum bicycle and motorcycle parking requirements have also been removed from the Housing SEPP. Applicants will now need to demonstrate that they are providing adequate bicycle and motorcycle parking on site.
A density bonus of 10% applies to co-living housing to encourage take up and ensure ongoing supply of this important rental product.
We will consider the ongoing need for the density bonus as part of a review of the Housing SEPP, to be completed within 3 years from the date of commencement of the SEPP.