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

Applying to VCAT

Find out how to make an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and see some examples of common renters’ applications.

Common reasons to apply to VCAT

Renters apply to VCAT on a variety of matters. There are examples on this page of applications for:

  • Urgent repairs
  • Getting your money back for urgent repairs
  • Non-urgent repairs

Making an application to VCAT

1. Fill in the VCAT application form

Use the General Application form [VCAT website].

2. Collect your evidence

Collect all the evidence you have to support your application.

VCAT’s prepare evidence page has more information on using evidence to support your VCAT 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 – one for you, one for the rental provider (landlord), or agent, and one for VCAT.

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

Keep a copy of the application form and all your evidence for yourself. Keep this safe as you will need it at the hearing.

5. Give your application to VCAT

Give these things to VCAT:

  • The application form
  • Copies of all your evidence

You may have to pay an application fee. See our page, Fees and costs for a VCAT hearing.

In person

If using a paper application form and taking it 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.

Online

If you apply online, you should also email VCAT – Renting@vcat.vic.gov.auto let them know your application is urgent, because the online system might not be able to assess the urgency.

By post

If you are using a paper application form and cannot give this to VCAT in person, you can send it by express registered post so it can get there as fast as possible. If sending by post, keep your receipt and tracking number.

You will need to allow time for delivery.

Urgent applications

If your application is urgent, for example, for urgent repairs, an urgent restraining order, an application involving family or personal violence, or applying to re-open a missed hearing, we recommend you contact VCAT by phone 1300 01 822 or in person to discuss the best way to make your application so it can be heard as quickly as possible.

If you go in person to discuss this with VCAT, take your application form with you so you can give it them at the same time.

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

The law requires you to give a copy of the application, and evidence, to the rental provider or agent. This must be done within 7 days of giving your application to VCAT, or immediately if your application is urgent.

This is called ‘service’ and VCAT might ask you to prove it has been done. 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 and respond to your application.

In person – recommended for urgent applications

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 – recommended for urgent applications

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

If you send the application by email you should check that it has been received. Also 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.

By post – not recommended for urgent applications

If you cannot give the rental provider, or agent, the application 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 normally comes by post.

Urgent applications

If your application is urgent, for example for urgent repairs or for an urgent restraining order, it is better to call VCAT the day after you apply to find out the date of the hearing. You should also make sure the rental provider knows the date.

8. Prepare for VCAT

Find useful information and tips on our page on VCAT and our video and handbook on how to apply and prepare for a VCAT hearing, A day at the bench.

Also see the page on VCAT’s website, Prepare for the hearing.

What happens next

After hearing your application and 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 the VCAT Member makes an order, check with them if they have included the right to renew the application. This means you can take the rental provider back to VCAT if they haven’t followed the order.

Example: urgent repairs

You can apply to VCAT to order the rental provider to arrange for urgent repairs if:

  • The repairs are urgent
  • You have tried to contact the rental provider or agent and have reported the repairs needed in writing, and
  • You could not contact them or have not heard from them, or they have not arranged for the repairs

See our page, Repairs and maintenance

Your application form

Make sure you write about:

  • What needs to be fixed
  • What you want VCAT to do. For example, you want VCAT to make an order that the rental provider must arrange for the repairs to be done by a suitably qualified person and by a certain time

Rent special account

It is important that you keep paying your rent even if you are having problems getting the rental provider to arrange for repairs. But you can add to your application that you want to pay it to VCAT’s Rent Special Account rather than the rental provider until the repairs are done. If VCAT approves this, you keep paying rent but the rental provider does not get the money until the repairs are done.

Your evidence

Include anything that supports your application, such as:

  • Photos or videos of the repairs needed
  • Notes about when and how you tried to contact the rental provider, or agent, (dates, times, phone numbers you called, names of people you spoke with, other ways you tried to contact them like email)
  • Any building or safety reports you may have to prove it is ‘unsafe’, if relevant

VCAT orders

If VCAT orders the rental provider to do the repairs, they must do them immediately or by the date in the order.

If they do not, and the orders include a right to renew the application, you can take the rental provider back to VCAT. To do this you can usually just write to VCAT and notify the rental provider that you have done this.  You should also provide an update and any evidence of the rental provider failing to follow the orders.

You might also be able to ask for compensation from the rental provider. See our page, Compensation.

Repair orders often include an option to apply for compensation at the same time you take a rental provider back to VCAT if they have not followed the orders. If you know how much compensation you want until the orders have been followed and the repairs carried out, you can make that claim at the same time as you renew the application. But if you do not, or you are finding that too stressful, you can tell VCAT that you wish to make a claim for compensation at a different time.

Example: getting your money back for urgent repairs

You can apply to VCAT to order the rental provider to reimburse or pay you back for urgent repairs you paid for if:

  • The repairs were urgent
  • You made attempts to contact the rental provider, or agent, to arrange repairs (and have evidence of this)
  • The amount you want reimbursed is $2,500 or less (including GST)
  • You have asked to be reimbursed in writing and at least 7 days have passed since the rental provider, or agent, received your request, and
  • You have not been paid back

See our page, Repairs and maintenance.

Your application form

Make sure you write about:

  • The urgent repairs that were done
  • Your attempts to get the rental provider or agent to do the repairs
  • How much the repairs cost
  • That it has been 7 days since you asked the rental provider to pay you back, and
  • What you want VCAT to do. For example, you want VCAT to make an order that the rental provider has to pay you for the cost of the repairs by a certain time [sections 452 and 72 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997] or that the cost of repairs be offset against your rent [section 209AAB]

Your evidence

Include anything that supports your application, such as:

  • Photos or videos of the repairs needed, before and after they were done if you have them, and anything supporting their urgency, such as a building or safety report
  • Notes about when and how you tried to contact the rental provider – dates, times, phone numbers you called, names of people you spoke with
  • Emails, notices or letters you sent about the repairs needed
  • Quotes you got before the repairs were done, to show the amount you paid was reasonable
  • Receipts or tax invoices for the repairs done

VCAT orders

If VCAT orders the rental provider to reimburse/or pay you for the cost of the repairs, they must pay you the amount in the order immediately or by the date in the order.

Example: non-urgent repairs

You can apply to VCAT to order the rental provider to arrange for non-urgent repairs if:

  • You have reported the repairs needed in writing; and
  • The repairs have not been done within 14 days of you reporting them

Or:

  • You have reported the repairs needed in writing
  • The repairs have not been done within 14 days of you reporting them
  • You have applied to Consumer Affairs Victoria for an inspection
  • You have received a report from Consumer Affairs Victoria, or it has refused to provide a report, and
  • The repairs still have not been done

If you request an inspection from Consumer Affairs Victoria, you cannot apply to VCAT for an order for non-urgent repairs until either you have received a report from Consumer Affairs Victoria or Consumer Affairs Victoria has refused to provide a report.

Your application form

Make sure you write about what needs to be fixed, and about what you want VCAT to do. For example, you want VCAT to make an order that the rental provider must arrange for the repairs to be done by a suitably qualified person by a certain time.

Rent special account

It is important that you keep paying your rent even if you are having problems getting the rental provider to arrange for repairs. However, you can add to your application that you want to pay it to VCAT’s Rent Special Account rather than the rental provider until the repairs are done. If VCAT approves this, you keep paying rent but the rental provider does not get the money until the repairs are done.

Your evidence

Include anything that supports your application, such as:

  • Photos or videos of the repairs needed
  • Notes about when and how you tried to contact the rental provider, or agent – dates, times, phone numbers you called, names of people you spoke with, emails, notices, maintenance forms
  • The Consumer Affairs Victoria inspection report, if you have one
  • Any other evidence you may have to show what needs to be repaired

VCAT orders

If VCAT orders the rental provider to do the repairs, they must do them immediately or by the date in the order.

If they do not, and the orders include a right to renew the application, you can take the rental provider back to VCAT. To do this you can usually just write to VCAT and notify the rental provider that you have done this. You should also provide an update and any evidence of the rental provider failing to follow the orders.

You might also be able to ask for compensation from the rental provider. See our page, Compensation.

Repair orders often include an option to apply for compensation at the same time you take a rental provider back to VCAT if they have not followed the orders. If you know how much compensation you want until the orders have been followed and the repairs carried out you can make that claim at the same time as you renew the application. But if you do not, or you are finding that too stressful, you can tell VCAT that you wish to make a claim for compensation at a different time.

Resources

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