In most cases everyone pays their own fees and costs for a VCAT hearing. It’s unlikely that you’ll get the other side to pay for these, even if you win.
In some cases VCAT may order that one side pay the fees and costs of the other side. VCAT will only do this if one side has made the hearing unfair for the other side. Examples include: taking someone to VCAT without a good reason, not giving copies of evidence to the other side, and causing the hearing to be adjourned (postponed).
Costs you can claim
Here are some costs that VCAT has ordered landlords to pay to tenants in the past:
- travel expenses (e.g. train fare, petrol, parking fees)
- costs of preparing evidence (e.g. photo processing charges, photocopying)
- lost income for the time spent attending the hearing
- lawyer’s fees.
How to claim
If you think the landlord should pay your fees and costs, you need to ask VCAT to make an order that the landlord has to pay. It’s best if you ask for this on your application form (in the section about orders you want VCAT to make). If not, you can ask for it at the hearing.
You should also write the section of the law on your form or refer to it at the hearing when you ask for this order. If you want the landlord to pay your costs, write Section 109, VCAT Act. If you want the landlord to pay your fees, write Section 115B, VCAT Act.
What you need
To support your claim, you should:
- have evidence to show the amounts you have spent (or lost) in going to the hearing (for example: a letter from your employer stating the amount of wages you have lost; receipts for train/tram/bus fare, parking, photocopying etc.)
- point to any reasons why you think it’s fair for the landlord to pay your costs (for example: because there is no good reason for the hearing, or because they caused the hearing to be postponed)
- point out how the landlord has caused unreasonable delay (for example: not giving you a copy of their claim before the hearing so the hearing had to be postponed)
- point out how the landlord has disadvantaged you at the hearing (for example: not giving you a copy of their evidence until the day before the hearing so you didn’t have enough time to prepare your response)
- point out how the landlord has tried to deceive you or VCAT.