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

Bonds – guide to renters’ VCAT applications

If you think the rental provider (landlord) will dispute your claim to the Residential Tenancies Bonds Authority (RTBA) for your bond back , you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), as well as making a claim to the RTBA.

Applying to VCAT for your bond

To apply to VCAT complete the general application form asking for your bond back and attach your bond receipt. The steps on this page will help guide you on how to make your application.

Time limits

You have 14 days to make your VCAT application from the day your tenancy ends. There is no time limit on putting in a claim to the RTBA.

Application fees

Bond applications to VCAT are free and there is generally no threat of legal fees when attending the Tribunal.

Applications for compensation

If you want to also apply to VCAT for compensation because if there were problems during your tenancy, you can make that application at the same time, but you may have to pay an application fee. You have six years from the loss or damage to apply for compensation. See our page  Compensation for renters.

Step 1: Fill in the VCAT application

Use VCAT’s general form on its website.

When you get to ‘claim details’ include the section number of the law that relates to bonds applications, which is section 419A of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. You then need to give details about your claim, including details about:

  • Your tenancy, for example, the dates your lease started and ended, and the date you moved out and returned the keys
  • How you left the property, for example that you met all your duties under the law and left it reasonably clean and took care to avoid damage
  • Any attachments and evidence you will provide to support your claim.

If you need more space to provide all the details of your claim, you may use separate pages to complete your details, then attach those to the application form.

Step 2: Collect your evidence

Collect all the evidence you have to support your application, such as:

  • A copy of the RTBA bond receipt – this must be attached. If you cannot find your bond receipt you can call the RTBA on 1300 137 164 and ask them to send you a copy. Alternatively, you can print another one out from the RTBA website.
  • A copy of your rental agreement
  • Any communication with the rental provider (landlord), or agent, about moving out, for example your letter or email giving your notice or the rental provider’s notice to vacate
  • Any evidence supporting your application, such as photos taken at the start and end of your tenancy, entry and exit condition reports, receipts for cleaning, statutory declarations from any witnesses.

Step 3: Make 2 copies

Make 2 copies of your completed application form and your evidence, so that you have 3 sets in total – one for VCAT, one for the rental provider and one for you. You can copy, scan or take photos but make sure the copies are good enough that you can read everything clearly.

Keep the copies for yourself safe as you will need them at the hearing.

Step 4: Give your application to VCAT

Give these things to VCAT:

  • The application form
  • Copies of all the evidence

If taking the application in person to VCAT, write down the date, time and name of the person you handed it to. Details of where to take the application are on the form.

If sending it by post, keep your receipt and tracking number.

Or you can submit your application online at VCAT.

Step 5: Give a copy to the rental provider

The law requires you to give a copy of the application and evidence to the rental provider or agent. This is called ‘service’ and VCAT might ask you to prove it has been done.

The safest way to prove service is to deliver the application and evidence in person, keeping a note of the date, time and name of the person you handed it to. If you cannot do it in person you can:

  • Send it by post. We recommend registered post so you can prove VCAT received it. Keep your receipt and tracking number.
  • Email it. Note that some agents do not check their emails very often or might have put something in your rental agreement saying they will not accept emails, even though the law says you can send a VCAT application by email. So check that your email has been received.

Step 6: Get the hearing details from VCAT

VCAT will send you a ‘notice of hearing’ to let you know when and where the hearing will take place.

If you do not hear from VCAT after a few days, call them to find out if they have set a hearing date.

Step 7: Get ready for VCAT

We have more information and tips on our website, including a page on VCAT.

After the hearing

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

Related pages

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