This information is a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

Bonds – guide to rental providers’ VCAT applications

If the rental provider (landlord) wants to make a claim on your bond and you disagree, they must apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). If you do not agree with their claim you must attend the VCAT hearing to defend your bond. The steps on this page will help guide you.

Step 1: Give the rental provider your new address

Make sure you give the rental provider or agent a forwarding address. If they don’t have one, they, and VCAT, might deliver notices and documents to the rental property where you used to live. You may not find out about the rental provider’s application until after the hearing. Ensure that you get your mail by having it redirected by Australia Post from your old address to your new address when you move.

If a VCAT hearing goes ahead without your knowledge, and orders are made, you can apply to VCAT to reopen the order. You need to make the application within 14 days of finding out about the order. If the bond has already been paid to the rental provider, you can ask VCAT to make an order that the rental provider repay you the amount they have received from your bond.

Step 2: Get a copy of the application

If the rental provider (landlord) applies to VCAT, the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal, they must give you a copy of their application and any evidence intended to support their application.

If you do not receive the evidence with their application you should ask the rental provider or agent to send this to you before the hearing. Tell them you will ask for the hearing to be adjourned (delayed) if you have not received this or if you have not been given time enough time before the hearing to review it.

Put the request in writing so you can present this at the hearing to support a request for adjournment.

Step 3: Get the hearing details from VCAT

If the rental provider makes an application to VCAT you will be sent a ‘notice of hearing’ telling you where and when to go to defend the claim against your bond.

What if you cannot attend?

If you do not turn up, the rental provider could get what they ask for. VCAT can make an order even if you do not go to the hearing.

If you cannot go to the hearing you might be able to change the hearing date or attend by phone or video conference.

Step 4: Collect your evidence

VCAT will let you tell your side of the story. If you do not agree that you are responsible for the rental provider’s loss, or think the rental provider’s claim is not reasonable, state your reasons and provide any evidence to support your claim.

This can include evidence about the condition of the property at both the start and end of the tenancy such as:

  • the entry and exit condition reports
  • photos
  • receipts for any cleaning
  • quotes for cleaning, repairing or replacing items
  • any witness statements.

Also see our page Preparing to defend your bond at VCAT.

Step 5: Make 2 copies

Make 2 copies of all the evidence you want to use. Make sure they can be read clearly. With the originals you will have 3 sets in total – one for VCAT, one for the rental provider and one for you.

Step 6: Take your evidence to the hearing

Take all 3 sets of evidence with you so you can give a copy to the rental provider, a copy to the VCAT Member and keep one for yourself. The VCAT Member is the person who hears and decides cases.

You should also take these things with you to the VCAT hearing:

  • a copy of the rental provider’s application and evidence
  • details of your tenancy, such as the date you started and if you have a fixed term agreement, such as for 12 months, or a periodic, month to month, agreement
  • the amount of bond paid and your bond receipt
  • the amount of notice given to end the tenancy, either by you or the rental provider

For more information on getting ready, see our VCAT page.

What happens next

At the end of the hearing the VCAT Member will make an order about how the bond is to be released by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA).

If VCAT agrees that your bond should be returned to you in full it will make an order authorising the RTBA to release your bond. You can then provide this order to the RTBA, which will release the bond as directed by the order.

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