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

Published: December 2021

Compensation for renters

You might be able to get compensation from the rental provider (landlord) if they breach the laws on renting or the terms of your rental agreement (lease). This page provides information on some common examples where renters may be able to get compensation.

Claiming compensation

You can claim compensation from the rental provider (landlord) if you can show:

  1. You have suffered loss, damage or significant inconvenience
  2. It was caused by the rental provider or their agent breaching their duties under the law or in the rental agreement (lease)

If you think you are entitled to compensation, but the rental provider does not agree, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for compensation orders.

Keep paying rent

If you intend to claim compensation do not stop paying rent. If you stop paying, the rental provider might try to evict you for overdue rent.

Time limits for claims

You can claim compensation up to 6 years after the loss, damage or significant inconvenience happened.

You can claim either while you are still living at the rented home, or after you have moved out.

How much you can claim

At the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), you can claim up to $40,000 compensation under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 [section 447].

If your claim is for more than $40,000, you can claim under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012.

The loss you are claiming for

Depending on your situation, some examples of what you could claim for are:

  • Loss of money
  • Loss of the use of your home
  • Damage to your belongings
  • Loss of facilities if you were promised something in your rental agreement that the rental provider has not provided, or if something that was once there is removed
  • Loss for significant inconveniences you have experienced

The cause of your loss

You need to show your loss was caused because the rental provider or agent broke the law or the terms in your rental agreement. In other words, they did something they should not do, such as turning up at the property without proper reason or notice, or did not do something they should have done, such as not arranging for repairs.

Evidence to prove your claim

It is up to you to prove your claim, so the more evidence you have of the rental provider’s breaches and the losses you have suffered, the better.

Make sure you tell the rental provider or agent about the problem from the start, in writing, and keep evidence of the problem and evidence that you told them.

When reporting breaches we recommend you use the ‘‘Notice of breach of duty to rental provider of rented premises’ form from Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV).

Keep copies of all your evidence as you go. For example, if your claim relates to repairs, keep evidence of all your contact with the rental provider, agent or anyone else involved, such as a tradesperson, photos or videos; receipts for anything you have had to pay for, and quotes for anything you need to buy.

If possible, scan or copy all your evidence into the ‘cloud’ or email it to yourself for safe keeping. If you have any witnesses to the problem, at the time ask them to prepare a statutory declaration, or sign and date a written statement, about what they witnessed.

Reasonable costs

If you apply to VCAT for compensation, they will only award costs that they decide are reasonable.

They will also look at what actions you took to minimise your losses. For example, if your claim relates to repairs VCAT will want to know how and when you reported the repairs, and if you took any other action to get the repairs done, such as making an application to VCAT.

You will need to be able to explain how you worked out your costs and show that they are reasonable. You should ask for everything that you think is fair, but do not overspend as you may not get it all back.

For example, if you had to stay somewhere else while repairs were carried out at your home you can ask for the cost of this accommodation in your claim. But make sure wherever you choose is reasonably priced as you may not get all your money back if you stay somewhere expensive and there were suitable, less expensive, options available.

If you are claiming for your goods that have been damaged due to the rental provider delaying or not undertaking repairs, you may not get the full cost for replacement unless you can show your goods were new when they were damaged or destroyed, or that the only suitable replacement must be bought new. For example, there may be health risks in buying a second-hand mattress if yours has been damaged due to repair issues at the property. For this reason, you may also wish to consider renters’ insurance for your belongings.

Personal injury

VCAT cannot award compensation for personal injury, although you can include medical evidence of personal injury in your compensation claim to show how serious your loss is.

If you want compensation for matters such as pain, suffering and physical injury, you might be able to claim under a different area of law, but not under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. The steps you need to take will be different.

Contact a personal injury lawyer, who may charge a fee to advise you. The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) has a Find Your Lawyer service on its website.

Find a personal injury lawyer

Compensation for breaches by rental provider

The most common reasons to claim compensation are for breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 by the rental provider.

Breaches include these issues:

  • Repairs, including safety-related repairs and maintenance [sections 68 and 68A]
  • Your ‘quiet enjoyment’ is disturbed [section 67], such as the rental provider turning up without proper reason or notice or repair issues stopping you from enjoying all or part of your home
  • The property is not reasonably clean or vacant on the day you are to move in [section 65]
  • The property does not meet minimum standards [section 65A]
  • Safety check records for gas and electricity are not being kept and produced [section 68B]
  • Locks and keys [sections 70, 70A and 70B]
  • Replacement appliances, fixtures and fittings do not meet certain standards [section 69]

Note that in the above list and elsewhere on this page the sections in brackets, such as [section 68], refer to sections in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997. See the Resources section at the bottom of this page for links to the laws. There are similar, but not identical, sections that apply for residents of rooming houses and caravan parks.

Find out more about giving a formal notice about a breach to the rental provider on our page on Landlord breaches.

Also see our page about Consumer Affairs Victoria’s guidelines on rental providers’ and renters’ duties. If a compensation claim goes to VCAT, VCAT will take these guidelines into consideration when making decisions about the claim [section 211B]. You can also view the full guidelines on Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website.

Consumer Affairs Victoria guidelines

Repairs

By law, the rental provider has a duty to ensure:

  • Your rented home is ‘maintained in good repair and in a reasonably fit and suitable condition’, including any shared areas they own or manage [section 68]
  • All repairs are done by a ‘suitably qualified person’ [section 68]
  • There is compliance with safety-related repairs and maintenance requirements [section 68A]

You may be able to claim compensation if the rental provider or agent breaches these duties and delays or does not do repairs.

Before seeking compensation, we recommend you first follow the steps for getting repairs done.  See our pages on Repairs and maintenance and Safety requirements.

You must tell the rental provider in writing if anything needs to be repaired or is damaged as soon as possible, especially if not fixing the problem could cause more damage [sections 62 and 72AA]. If you apply to VCAT for compensation it will consider whether you gave the rental provider written notice [section 211]. If you do not give written notice this could affect your compensation claim.

You will need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim, so remember to keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Examples

Here are some examples of potential compensation for repairs that the rental provider did not fix, or delayed fixing:

  • The roof is leaking, and you could not use part of your home until it was fixed
  • The hot water system isn’t working, and you could not shower at home until it was fixed
  • The heater is faulty, or the property does not meet the minimum standards for heating, and you had to buy a heater to use until the problem was fixed
  • The stove is faulty, or the property does not meet the minimum standards for kitchens, and you could not cook at home until this was fixed
  • The pool fence is damaged, and you could not use the pool or the outdoor area until it was fixed

You might also get compensation if your electricity bill increased due to repairs being done. Examples of this are running heaters or fans to dry out carpets after a burst water pipe, or tradespeople operating a lot of power tools during repairs.

Depending on the circumstances, you might also be able to claim for loss or damage to your belongings if this was caused by a repair issue that the rental provider knew about, or should have known about, but did not fix or delayed fixing.

You can also claim compensation for loss of quiet enjoyment when this has been affected by repair issues. For example, you could not enjoy part of your home because there was a leak, it was unsafe, or tradespeople were working there.

‘Quiet enjoyment’ disturbed

By law, the rental provider has a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that you have quiet enjoyment of your home [section 67].

You may be able to claim compensation if the rental provider or agent breaches this duty.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim, so remember to keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

For more information about the laws on when and how rental providers and real estate agents can enter your home see our page on Privacy and entry.

Examples

Some examples of potential compensation for breaches of quiet enjoyment include these:

  • The rental provider, their agent, or someone they have sent to your home have not followed the laws in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 about entering the property, such as turning up at your home without giving you proper notice or entering your home without a proper reason
  • You are not able to fully enjoy your home because of repair issues, such as a roof leak that stops you from using the room or rooms affected by the leak, or because tradespeople are working in your home
  • You are not able to enjoy all or part of your home because it was not reasonably clean or vacant on the day you were supposed to move in
  • You are not able to get into your home because the rental provider or agent have not given you keys
  • You are not able to get into your home because the rental provider or agent have changed the locks or illegally evicted you

Locks and keys

By law, the rental provider has a duty to ensure that:

  • All external entry doors, other than screen doors, have a working deadlock, unless an exception applies, in which case they must be fitted with a lock that is operated by a key from the outside [section 70]
  • There are working locks on all windows capable of having a lock [section 70]
  • If they change any lock that you are given a key to the new lock as soon as possible [section 70]
  • If you have changed the locks because of family or personal violence, they do not give a copy of the new keys to a person who is excluded from the property under an intervention order [section 70A], or is no longer on the rental agreement [section 70B]

You may be able to claim compensation if your rental provider or agent breaches this duty.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim, so remember to keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Faulty locks are an urgent repair

If you cannot lock up your home, you should report this to the rental provider and agent immediately. Where locks are broken or faulty, take action straight away to get urgent repairs.

Even though the rental provider is at fault for not providing working locks, it might affect your claim if you did not act on the problem quickly. and take any steps you could to protect yourself and your belongings.

For more information on arranging for urgent repairs see our page on Repairs and maintenance.

Examples

Some examples of potential compensation for breaches relating to locks and keys include:

  • You cannot get into your home because the rental provider or agent has changed the locks but not given you a key (see also “‘Quiet enjoyment’ disturbed” on this page)
  • Your home was broken into, and your belongings were damaged or stolen because the rental provider did not provide locks for all external doors and windows

Replacement appliances are below standard

By law, if an appliance, fitting or fixture at the property that uses or supplies water, electricity or gas needs to be replaced, the rental provider must make sure the replacement meets a prescribed minimum rating in an efficiency rating system [section 69]. See our page on Utility charges.

You may be able to claim compensation if your rental provider or agent breaches this duty.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim, so remember to keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Example

An example of a potential compensation claim for this breach is if you received an unusually high water, gas or electricity bill after the rental provider replaced a broken dishwasher, shower, toilet, tap, air conditioner or heater with one that performs below the prescribed minimum rating.

Property not reasonably clean when you move in

By law, the rental provider must ensure the property is reasonably clean on the day you are due to move in. If it is not, you are not required to move in until the home has been made reasonably clean [section 65].

You may be able to claim compensation if the rental provider or agent breaches this duty.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim, so remember to keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Examples

For example, if the property was too dirty for you to move in straight away, you could claim compensation for:

  • Any rent you paid until the property was made reasonably clean to allow you to move in
  • Other costs and inconveniences you incurred because you could not move in until the property was made reasonably clean, such as having to pay to stay somewhere else

Alternatively, if you moved in but still had to clean the property yourself because the rental provider refused to clean it you could claim for:

  • Costs you incurred for cleaning
  • Any loss of your use of the property while it was not reasonably clean. See also the section on “‘Quiet enjoyment’ disturbed” on this page

Property not vacant when you move in

By law, the rental provider must ensure the property is vacant on the day you are due to move in [section 65].  The meaning of ‘vacant’ includes that no-one else is living there and that no-one else’s belongings are left there.

You may be able to claim compensation if the rental provider or agent breaches this duty.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim, so remember to keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Examples

For example, if someone is still living at the property on the day you are due to move in, or you rented the property unfurnished but could not move in because it was full of the rental provider’s or previous renter’s belonging, you could claim compensation for:

  • Any rent you have paid until the property is vacant and you can move in
  • Other costs and inconveniences you incurred because you could not move in until the property was vacant, such as having to pay to stay somewhere else

Alternatively, if you moved in but could not use all the property because it was being used to store other people’s belongings, you can ask the rental provider to remove them and could claim compensation for not being able to use, and enjoy, the whole property until this was done.

In another example, if you rented a property with a garage but cannot use it because it is full of the rental provider’s belongings you could claim compensation for not being able to use that part of the property until the time it was cleaned out and made vacant.

See also the section on “‘Quiet enjoyment’ disturbed” on this page.

Compensation for other reasons

Compensation is not limited to the breaches on this page. You may also be able to claim for other problems you have with your rental agreement, or with the rental provider not following the law or the rental agreement.

This could include claiming compensation in these circumstances:

  • You are illegally evicted [section 91P] – see our Evictions page
  • The rental provider unlawfully disposes of your goods or personal documents [section 396] – see our Goods left behind page
  • Misrepresentations by the rental provider, such as promising products or services but not providing them [section 30E]
  • Your belongings are damaged when the rental provider, agent or someone they invite enters your home [section 90]
  • You are charged for electricity, gas or water where there is no separate meter [section 53] – see our Utility charges page
  • The rental provider reduces or withdraws services, facilities or other items at the home
  • Invalid rent increases [section 44] – see our Rent increases page
  • The rental provider refuses to return overpaid rent
  • The rental provider refuses to return a holding deposit you paid to hold the property while you were deciding if you wanted to rent it [section 50]
  • Significant inconveniences you have experienced as a result of the rental provider failing to follow the law or the rental agreement
  • Discrimination [sections 30A, 210AA]. For more information see our page Applying for a rental property
  • You are not given keys or security devices, such as entry fobs, or enough for all renters on the agreement [section 54A]

This is not a full list—there may be other areas not mentioned here where you could claim. If your situation is not dealt with here, we recommend you contact us, your local Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) service for people in private rentals, Tenancy Plus provider for renters in public and community housing, or community legal centre for advice on your particular situation.

Illegal eviction

If the rental provider wants you to move out they must follow all the steps in the law, which include VCAT granting them a possession order if it is ‘reasonable and proportionate’ to do so [sections 91B, 91P and 330]. Once all the legal steps are followed, only the police can evict you. If anyone else tries to evict you, you should call the police immediately. See our pages Notice to vacate and Eviction.

You can claim compensation if the rental provider illegally evicts you.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim, so remember to keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Example

For example, you can claim for inconveniences, costs, loss or damage you have suffered because of the rental provider’s illegal actions, including these circumstances:

  • You have to pay to stay somewhere else while you could not access your home
  • Your belongings were damaged or destroyed during the illegal eviction
  • You suffered inconveniences as a result of being illegally evicted

Illegally removing your goods

It is against the law for the rental provider to take or dispose of your belongings because you owe them rent [section 49].

The rental provider also must not take or dispose of your belongings if you left them behind when you moved out, unless they first follow all the steps in the law [section 396].  See our page Goods left behind.

You can claim compensation if the rental provider has broken these laws.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim. Make sure you keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Examples

For example, you could claim compensation for:

  • Having to buy replacements for your belongings they disposed of
  • Fixing things that got damaged because they were left on the street

You may not get the full cost for replacement unless you can show your goods were new when they were disposed of, destroyed or damaged, or that the only suitable replacement  must be bought new. For example, there may be health risks in buying a second-hand mattress if yours was disposed of by the rental provider. For this reason, you may also wish to consider renters’ insurance for your belongings.

If the rental provider has sold your goods legally you can apply for compensation to have any money left over from the sale paid to you after any occupation fee and reasonable costs of the sale are deducted [section 392].

Damage to your goods during entry

You can claim compensation if your belongings have been damaged during a visit to your home by the rental provider, their agent, or someone they have allowed in [section 90].

You need to show both your loss and the cause to make your claim and make sure you keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

If your goods were damaged beyond repair you may not get the full cost for replacement unless you can show they were new when they were damaged, or that the only suitable replacement must be bought new. For example, there may be health risks in buying a second-hand mattress. For this reason, you may also wish to consider renters’ insurance for your belongings.

Broken promises

You can claim compensation if the rental provider does not do what they agreed to do in the rental agreement, or in a separate agreement you have with them.

You need to show both your loss and its cause to make your claim. Make sure you keep evidence of the problem and your costs.

Examples

For example, you could claim compensation in these circumstances:

  • You pay large mobile phone and data bills because the rental provider does not install a phone or internet connection that they promised
  • You buy heating or cooling appliances because the rental provider does not install a heater or air conditioner that they promised
  • You pay for a gardener because the rental provider does not provide a gardening service that they promised
  • You pay for a parking permit or for parking because the rental provider does not provide you with a car space that they promised

Common reasons for claims

Repair issues and disturbances to quiet enjoyment are the most common reasons renters contact Tenants Victoria for advice on making a compensation claim. We have some examples below on what you could claim and how to calculate your claim.

Compensation is not limited to these problems alone. There are many reasons why a renter would want to make a compensation claim and where they would be entitled to do so.

Some of this information may apply to your individual circumstances. If your circumstances are not addressed here you can contact us, your local Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) service for people in private rentals, Tenancy Plus provider for renters in public and community housing, or community legal centre for advice on your particular situation.

Repair claims

If the rental provider delayed or did not fix repair problems at your home you can claim compensation for losses you have incurred as a result, including loss of quiet enjoyment.

Some examples of what you might want to include in your claim could be:

  • The cost of a heater you had to buy because the heater in the home was broken, or the property did not meet heating minimum standards
  • The cost of showering at your local gym because the hot water system was broken
  • The cost of food deliveries because the stove was broken, or your kitchen did not meet minimum standards so you could not cook at home
  • The cost of repairing or replacing belongings damaged or destroyed by a leaking roof
  • The cost of dry-cleaning clothes soiled by mould caused by a leaking pipe
  • A reduction in your rent for times you could not use and enjoy your entire home because of repair problems
  • The cost of alternative accommodation if the repair problems were so great you could not stay at home
  • An increased water bill because of a faulty hot-water system
  • An increased electrical bill due to repairs being carried out, such as running heaters or fans to dry out carpets after a roof leak, or tradespeople operating a lot of power tools when carrying out repairs

Before seeking compensation, we recommend you first follow the steps for getting repairs done.  See our pages on Repairs and maintenance and Safety requirements.

It is a good idea to wait until the repairs have been done before you claim. This is because if you end up taking a claim to VCAT, it will not always hear cases where the compensation is still adding up. However, you should notify the rental provider that you intend to claim compensation, and that the longer they delay the repairs the more you will be able to claim. This will sometimes persuade the rental provider to carry out repairs more quickly.

‘Quiet enjoyment’ claims

If the rental provider interferes with your quiet enjoyment, you can claim compensation for losses you incurred as a result.

Some examples of what you might want to include in a claim for loss of quiet enjoyment could be:

  • The rental provider sending a tradesperson to work at your home without giving you notice or getting your consent
  • Not being able to use and enjoy your entire home because of repair issues, such as a roof leak the rental provider has not fixed or delays fixing, or an area being unsafe because safety-related maintenance and repair activities have not been carried out, or because there are tradespeople working at your home and you cannot use your home properly because of this

Calculating your claim

For the loss of quiet enjoyment Tenants Victoria often uses the following equation to demonstrate how the amount has been estimated:

A x B x C = amount of compensation for the loss of enjoyment/use

Where:

A = the total number of days without the enjoyment/use

B = your daily rent, see ‘daily rent’ below on how to work this out

C = percentage estimate of loss – see ‘percentage estimate of loss’ below

Once you have calculated the amount you want for quiet enjoyment you can add amounts for any other losses and inconveniences you have suffered, for example having to buy a heater if the rental provider delayed or did not fix the heater at your home.

Daily rent

To work out your daily rent, you need to multiply your monthly rent by 12 then divide that figure by 365 to get the daily amount.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) has a rent calculator which can help you work out your daily rent amount.

Percentage estimate of loss

This can be the most difficult part of the claim to work out and you may need to explain to VCAT why the percentage you have decided on is reasonable for the loss you have suffered.

For example, if you are renting a 5-bedroom home and could not use one of the bedrooms because of a leaking roof, but all other rooms were unaffected, claiming a rent decrease of 50% would not be reasonable as you have not lost the use of 50% of your home.

However, if you could not use 2 bedrooms and had to move furniture from those rooms into other rooms to avoid damage to your things or to allow repairs to be done, then claiming 50% may be reasonable.

Example: a broken heater

Your heater broke down in winter. You repeatedly asked the rental provider to fix it, but that took 2 months. You had another heater, but it was expensive to run so you only used it to heat your living room where you could close the doors to keep the heat in, and used electric blankets in the bedrooms.

By failing to fix the heater for 2 months the rental provider has breached their duty to keep your home in good repair [section 68] and their duty to ensure you have quiet enjoyment of your home [section 67]. You can claim compensation for the losses you have suffered because of these breaches.

Making up a table of your losses and the actions you have taken can help you show how you have calculated your claim and that it is reasonable. See an example of what the claim table might look like in the link below.

Make sure you keep your evidence, such as written communication and phone logs for times you contacted the rental provider about the issue, breach notices you gave to the rental provider, receipts, photos of the issue and the damage, as well as any other evidence that might help your claim.

Example: claiming for multiple issues

If you want to claim compensation for multiple issues at your home where you suffered loss or inconvenience because the rental provider breached their duties under the law or the rental agreement, you might want to claim them at the same time.

As with the example above, make up a table of your losses and the actions you have taken to show how you have calculated your claim and that it is reasonable. See an example of what the claim table might look like in the link below.

Make sure you keep your evidence, such as written communication and phone logs for times you contacted the rental provider about the issue, any breach notices you issued to the rental provider, receipts, photos of the issue and the damage, as well as any other evidence that might help your claim.

Compensation claim template

To create your own table to record the details of a compensation claim you can use our template.

How to make a claim

1.  Decide when to claim

You can claim compensation up to 6 years from the date of the breach. You can claim:

  • While you are still living at the rented home
  • After you have moved out

2.  Decide how much to claim

You need to put a dollar value on everything you want to claim, including claiming for a loss of amenity or reduced quiet enjoyment if you were unable to use and enjoy part or all of your home. See the heading ‘Work out how much to claim’ on this page.

If you end up taking your claim to VCAT for compensation orders you will need to be able to explain the amount you are claiming for each item, and provide proof of your claim

3. Notify the rental provider in writing

How you notify the rental provider about your compensation claim depends on factors including whether you are claiming for a breach of the rental provider’s duties under Victorian rental laws, and whether you still live at the property or have moved out.

Claim is for a breach of duty – still living at the property

If you still live at the property and are claiming for a breach of duty under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 you need to give the rental provider the official Notice of breach of duty to rental provider of rented premises form.

See the section headed ‘Completing the form for a notice of breach of duty’ below on this page and our page on Landlord breaches and other notices.

Claim is not for a breach of duty – still living at the property

If you still live at the property but are not claiming for a breach of duty you do not need to give a notice of breach of duty form. However, you should still write to the rental provider to tell them why you want compensation, the amount you want, and that you will apply to VCAT for compensation orders if they do not pay the compensation within 14 days.

No longer living at the property

If you have moved out before you make a claim you do not need to give the rental provider a notice of breach of duty form, even if your claim relates to them breaching a duty provision.  You can apply straight to VCAT.

If you want to avoid VCAT, and the VCAT application fee, you could try writing a letter to the rental provider first. Include the reasons why you want compensation and the amount you want, and inform them you will apply to VCAT if they do not pay the compensation within 14 days.

Completing the form for a notice of breach of duty

The breach notice tells the rental provider that they must not commit a similar breach again. It also tells them that if they do not comply with the notice you may apply to VCAT for a compliance or compensation order.

When you fill out the form you must include:

  1. Address of the rented premises
  2. Renter details – write the names of all the renters on the rental agreement (lease)
  3. Rental provider details – this needs to include the rental provider’s name, even if they have an agent. If you do not know the rental provider’s name, check your rental agreement or ask the agent. If you live in public housing the rental provider is the Director of Housing
  4. The reason for the notice – see below
  5. How the notice will be delivered and the date it was sent. This can be personally, by post or by email, if there is agreement to receive notices by email. See the section headed ‘Giving a notice (‘service’)’ below on this page.

Reason for notice

At the ‘Reason for notice’ section of the form you need to include:

  • Why you believe the rental provider has breached their duty, and the duty, or duties, they have breached. On the last two pages of the form there is ‘Information for renters’ including a list of common reasons and section numbers for why you are giving the notice. You can copy the options that apply to your situation and paste them into the relevant section for the reason for the notice, then add further details about your situation. Include as much detail as possible about the breach, including dates. You can claim for several breaches on the one form.  If there is not enough space, write ‘see attached’ and provide the details on a separate sheet of paper.
  • What loss or damage has been caused to you because of the breach. Include details of the loss, damage and inconvenience you suffered as a result of the rental provider’s breach. Provide as much detail as possible.
  • What you want the rental provider to do, including selecting the time frame you want them to do this in. For breaches of quiet enjoyment [section 67] the time frame is 7 days. For all other breaches it is 14 days. The notice can be used to ask the rental provider to fix the problem and/or for compensation. If you are trying to get the rental provider to carry out their duties and fix the problem, you should state what you want them to do, such as fixing the leaking roof. Also see our page Landlord breaches and other notices. If you are claiming compensation, fill in the amount that you are claiming.
  • What evidence, if any, you will send with the notice. Mark the box to indicate whether or not you have attached any documents to the form and include a list of the evidence you will send with the notice.

Example of a reason for notice: compensation for repair and quiet enjoyment breaches

The following is an example of what to include at the ‘Reason for notice’ section in the ‘Notice of breach of duty to rental provider of rented premises’.

Example of breach of duty by rental provider

4. Keep copies for yourself

Keep a copy of the notice, or letter or email if you do not need to give a notice, and any evidence you want to attach. Make sure the copies are good enough that you can read everything clearly and keep them safe, as you will need them later if you apply to VCAT for compensation orders.

5. Giving a notice (‘service’)

Give a copy of the notice or letter or email and copies of any evidence you have attached to the rental provider or agent. This is known as ‘service’.

Do this as soon as possible.

In person

If you hand deliver the written notice, write down the date, time and name of the person you handed it to.

By post

If you mail the written notice by post, Tenants Victoria recommends using registered post and keeping your receipt and tracking number.

You also need to allow time for delivery. See the Australia Post website for delivery times.

By email

You can only send notices by email if the rental provider or agent has agreed to this.

Check:

  • If you have something in writing from the rental provider or agent that says they agree to you sending notices by email. This might be in your rental agreement (lease)
  • The email address is the one the rental provider or agent agreed to. They may have more than one email address

If you do email the notice, check to see if you can add a delivery or read receipt to your email before you send it, so that you receive an automatic reply.

Also include in the email a request for a return email from the agent of rental provider, or call to confirm you email has been received.

6. What happens next

Rental provider pays compensation

If the rental provider pays the compensation you have asked for, you do not need to take any further action.

Rental provider negotiates a settlement

If the rental provider wants to negotiate and settle the claim to avoid going to VCAT, and you reach a settlement agreement, make sure you put all the details in writing, such as:

  • The date of the agreement
  • What was agreed—what the compensation is for and the amount that will be paid
  • The date by which the rental provider needs to pay the compensation
  • What action may be taken if the compensation has not been paid by the due date – for example, that you may exercise your right to apply to VCAT for compensation orders, or if you have already applied to VCAT, that you will not withdraw your application until the compensation in the agreement has been paid in full

If you do reach a settlement agreement with the rental provider and have already applied to VCAT, we recommend you do not to withdraw your application until you have received all the compensation you and the rental provider agreed on.  Alternatively, you can still go ahead with your application and attend a hearing where you can ask VCAT to make consent orders matching your settlement agreement. That way, you will have a legally binding order about the compensation the rental provider is to pay you.

Your claim is not settled

If the rental provider does not pay the compensation and you cannot settle the claim, you can apply to VCAT for compensation orders.

Applying to VCAT for compensation orders

If the rental provider has not paid the compensation within the time set out in a breach of duty notice or if your claim is not related to a breach of duty provision within the time you have requested, you can apply to VCAT for compensation orders.

Make sure you follow the steps at the section headed ‘How to make a claim’ on this page before you start the process of applying to VCAT.

1. Fill in the VCAT application form

Use the form for the Residential Tenancies List on the VCAT website. There are options to apply online, or download a PDF.

Sections of the law your claim relates to

At ‘Part 9: Claim details – what you want VCAT to do’ on the application you will need to include the section or sections of the law your claim relates to.

Section 209 – claim for breach of duty – still living at the property

If you are still living at the property and claiming compensation for a breach of duty, you can apply under section 209 and under the general dispute section, section 452. For example, if the breaches relate to repairs and quiet enjoyment your claim details will be: ‘Section 209 – compensation for breaches of sections 67 and 68, and Section 452 – general dispute’.

You will need to provide a copy of the notice of breach of duty with your application.

Section 209AAB – claim for reimbursement of urgent repair costs

If you are claiming for reimbursement of the cost of urgent repairs you paid for, you can apply under section 209AAB and under the general dispute section, section 452. For example: ‘Section 209AAB – compensation for the cost of urgent repairs under section 72, and Section 452 – general dispute’.

You will need to provide a copy of your written notice or correspondence with the rental provider showing you have asked for these costs to be reimbursed. See our page on Repairs and maintenance.

Section 210AA – claim for discrimination

If you are claiming for discrimination you can apply under section 201AA and under the general dispute section, section 452. For example: ‘Section 210AA – compensation for discrimination under section 30A and section 452 – general dispute’.

Section 210 – claim for other reasons or for a breach of duty when you no longer live at the property

You can apply under section 210 and under the general dispute section, section 452, if your claim is not for a breach of duty, or is for a breach of duty, but you no longer live at the property.

An example of a claim that is not for a breach of duty is if you are claiming for damage to your goods caused during an entry by the rental provider. Your claim details will be: ‘Section 210 – compensation under section 90 for damage caused during entry and Section 452 – general dispute’.

Another example of a claim that is not for a breach of duty is if you are claiming to have overpaid rent reimbursed because the rental provider asked you to pay more rent without giving you a valid notice of a rent increase. Your claim details will be: ‘Section 210 – compensation for an invalid rent increase under section 44 and Section 452 – general dispute’.

For breaches of duty relating to repairs and quiet enjoyment – when you have already moved out of the property – your claim details will be: ‘Section 210 – compensation for breaches of sections 67 and 68, and Section 452 – general dispute’.

If you moved out before making this claim you are not required to give a notice of breach of duty before applying to VCAT.

Section 452

If you are not sure which section of the law relates to your situation, you can apply under ‘Section 452 – general dispute’. Provide as much information as you can about why you are claiming and how the rental provider is at fault.

Provide more details about your claim

After stating the section or sections of the law your claim relates to, you then need to provide details about your claim. You should include details about these matters:

  • When your rental agreement started and how much rent you pay
  • Details of the breach by the rental provider (if any) or details about the rental provider not following the law or the rental agreement
  • Your contact with the rental provider about a breach* or if the claim is not related to a breach of the law, your contact with them asking for compensation (if any)
  • Your losses (costs), damage and inconvenience as a result of the breach
  • The amount of your claim and how you came to that amount
  • Any attachments and evidence you will provide to support your claim – for example, evidence of the breach, your formal notice to the rental provider*, the table you used to work out how much to claim and your receipts or quotes.

*For the points marked with an asterisk, if you are still living at the property and applying under section 209 you must include a copy of the notice for breach of duty to a rental provider with your application.

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

Fees

You may have to pay an application fee. You can ask to be reimbursed the fee in your application. Any reimbursement will be a decision for VCAT, based on the outcome of the hearing. See our page  Claims for VCAT fees and costs.

Example: claim details for compensation for breaches relating to repairs and quiet enjoyment

View this extract from the VCAT application form for an example of claim details for breaches relating to repairs and quiet enjoyment of your home.

2. Gather your evidence

Collect all the evidence you have to support your application, such as the evidence in this list.

  • Evidence of the problem: for example, if the claim relates to repairs, you could include photos or a video showing what needed to be repaired as it might help to show how you were affected
  • Details about contact you have had with the rental provider or agent about the problem, such as emails and telephone call logs
  • Details about whether or not the problem was fixed and when it was fixed
  • A copy of the form for a notice of breach of duty to a rental provider, or if the claim is not related to a breach, other correspondence you had with the rental provider asking for compensation
  • Receipts for your expenses and quotes for future expenses
  • The table you used to calculate your claim, if you used one. See ‘Work out how much to claim’ on this page
  • Any other evidence you may have to support your claim

VCAT’s website has more information on using evidence to support your application.

3. Make 3 copies

If using a paper application rather than an online application, make 3 copies of the completed application form and all your evidence.

You will need 3 sets in total – one for VCAT, one for the rental provider or agent 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.

4. Keep copies for yourself

Make sure you keep a copy of the application form and all the evidence for yourself. Keep this safe, as you will need it at the VCAT hearing.

5. Make your application to VCAT

You can apply to VCAT online or by using a paper application form.  You may have to pay an application fee. For more information, see our page, VCAT.

Online applications

If you apply online, VCAT will send you a confirmation email, within 3 days, letting you know your application has been received. The email will include a VCAT reference number.

If you do not hear from VCAT after a few days, you can call on 1800 018 228 or email to renting@vcat.vic.gov.au to check that your application has been received.

The online application form gives you an option to upload any evidence you want to attach to your application, but there are size limits for these files of 10 megabytes.

If you cannot upload all of your evidence to your online application, you can send it to VCAT by email to renting@vcat.vic.gov.au. There is a 35 megabyte limit on emails to VCAT, so you may need to send more than one email if your files are larger than that.

Make sure you include your VCAT reference number in the subject line of any emails you send to VCAT.

Paper applications

If you apply to VCAT using a paper application form you will need to give VCAT:

  • A copy of your application
  • Copies of all your evidence

In person

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

By post

If sending to VCAT by post, we recommend you send it by express registered post so it can get there as quickly as possible. Keep your receipt and tracking number.

You will need to allow time for delivery.

6. Give a copy to the rental provider – ‘service’

The law requires you to give a copy of your application and evidence to the rental provider or agent. This is called ‘service’ and VCAT might ask you to prove it has been done. You must do this within 7 days of giving your application to VCAT, or immediately if your application is urgent.

Service of your application is required so that everyone knows what you are asking VCAT to do and everyone has a reasonable opportunity to attend the hearing and respond to your application.

In person

Hand delivering your application is the safest way to prove service. Keep a note of the date, time and name of the person you handed it to.

By email

Some rental providers or agents may include a statement in the rental agreement that they will not accept emails. But the law says you can send a VCAT application to a rental provider or their agent by email (VCAT Rules – Order 4).

If you send the application by email check to see if you can add a ‘delivery’ or ‘read’ receipt to your email before you send it, which can send you an automatic reply.  Also include in the email a request for a return email from the agent of rental provider or call to confirm you email has been received.

By post

If you cannot give the rental provider, or agent, your application and evidence in person or by email, we recommend express post or registered express post so it gets there quickly and in time for the hearing. If sending by post, keep your receipt and tracking number.

You will need to allow time for delivery.

7. Get the hearing details from VCAT

VCAT will send you a ‘Notice of hearing’ to let you know when and where the hearing will be. This usually comes by post.

If you do not hear from VCAT after a few days, you can call on 1800 018 228 or email at renting@vcat.vic.gov.au to find out if a hearing date has been set.

8. Prepare for VCAT

Find more information on how to prepare for the hearing on our VCAT page and also on VCAT’s website.

Prepare for your hearing day

9. What happens next

After hearing your application and the evidence of everyone at the hearing, VCAT can decide whether or not to make an ‘order’, which is a legally binding decision about the case.

If VCAT makes an order that the rental provider needs to pay you compensation, the order will include the amount of compensation to be paid and may also include a date by which the rental provider must pay it.

If an order is made, check that it includes a right to renew, as this will let you take the rental provider back to VCAT, without having to make another application, if they do not follow the order.

Rental provider database

From 29 March 2021, rental providers are listed on a rental provider database if VCAT has made a compliance or compensation order that a rental provider:

  • Must fix a breach, pay compensation or not commit a breach again, or
  • Has committed an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997[section 439P]

The database is called the ‘rental non-compliance register’ and is on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

For more information, see our page Rental provider database.

Resources

The law

Related pages

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