Advice is general in nature, consult a legal practitioner for your specific circumstances.

Eviction

Because of the pandemic, the government has put new rules in place to protect you from eviction if you fall behind in rent. Find out the new rules on Notices to Vacate, the grounds VCAT has for issuing Termination and Possession Orders, how much time you will get if you do have to move out and much more.

Can I be evicted if I fall behind in my rent because of COVID-19?

No. If you have lost your job or had your working hours cut, for example, because of the pandemic, and you have fallen behind in your rent, your landlord cannot evict you. This protection is in place from March 29, 2020 until March 28, 2021.

If your landlord thinks you can afford to pay rent without it causing you financial difficulty, they could apply to VCAT to terminate your lease. If the VCAT member decides you can afford to pay rent, but you don’t you could be evicted.

What if I get a notice to vacate?

While the COVID-19 emergency laws are in place you cannot be given a Notice to Vacate.

What if I got a notice to vacate?

If you received a Notice to Vacate before the emergency laws came in on March 29, 2020, and the termination (end) date on the notice is on or after March 29, 2020 the notice is not valid.

Can I still be made to move out?

Under the new laws, there is a different process if a landlord wants a tenant to move out.

A Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme (RTDRS) has been set up. As part of this step, you must first register your dispute with Consumer Affairs Victoria. This applies to all disputes, not just rent reductions or terminations.

If the landlord lives interstate, you should get legal advice from your local legal service or contact us.

What if the case goes to VCAT?

VCAT cannot make a Termination Order if the tenant’s failure to comply with their obligations from 29 March 2020, including paying rent, was due to a “COVID-19 reason”. See tenants’ responsibilities.

Before VCAT can make a Termination Order, the VCAT Member must consider if it is “reasonable and proportionate” for the tenancy to end.

These factors include (but are not limited to):

  • the hardship you and your household will suffer if a Termination Order is made
  • the hardship of other parties such as the landlord if the Termination Order is not made
  • the nature, frequency and duration of any conduct that led to the application
  • any family violence or personal violence intervention orders or related matters
  • whether any other orders or course of action is reasonably available instead of ending the tenancy

VCAT will also need to be satisfied about a number of things including, but not limited to, whether:

you, the tenant:

  • were threatening or intimidating
  • have not done what you were supposed to do under the rental agreement
  • assigned/sublet the property without consent
  • used the property for an illegal purpose

the property:

  • is not fit to live in

the landlord:

  • is selling
  • needs to move in (or their family does) 

for public housing properties:

  • eligibility for public housing
  • drug offences e.g. trafficking, supplying, cultivating etc
  • indictable offences
  • repairs, renovations, rebuilding that can’t be done with a tenant in the property, or if the property needs to be demolished
  • is needed for a public purpose.

What if VCAT makes a termination order?

If VCAT makes a Termination Order, it must include the date when the tenancy ends.

If you do not leave by that date, the landlord cannot evict you unless VCAT has made a Possession Order.

If VCAT made a Possession Order before March 29, 2020, the landlord cannot use this to evict you unless VCAT could have made the same Order under the new laws.

If the landlord has a Possession Order made before 29 March 2020 and is threatening to evict you, seek legal advice from your local legal service or contact us.

How long will I have to move out?

VCAT can make two types of orders at a termination hearing if they decide the tenancy can end:

  1. termination order – section 549(3), or
  2. termination order and possession order – section 549(4).

Termination order

If a Termination Order is made under section 549(3) the order must include a minimum time limit for when the tenancy ends. The time limits vary depending on the reason for the Order. For time limits see: minimum time limits – termination orders section 549(3)

Termination order and possession order

In some exceptional circumstances, there is a risk that VCAT may make both a termination order and a possession order in the same hearing (section 549(4)). If this happens the end (termination) date can be decided by VCAT, and you may not get the minimum time limit.

TIP: If VCAT is going to make a termination order ask that it be made under section 549(3) so you get the minimum time limit for when you need to leave. If VCAT refuses and wants to make a termination order and possession order at the same time (under section 549(4)) you should ask for the hearing to be adjourned (postponed) to allow you to get legal advice.

Written reasons

You are entitled to ask VCAT to give written reasons for any decisions and orders they make. This may be particularly useful if you could not get legal advice before any order was made and you believe VCAT made an error in deciding the application.

Note: If you ask for written reasons, your details and details about the hearing will be included, which can be made public.

Tell us your story

If you had a hearing where VCAT made a termination order and possession order at the same time please tell us your story. Tenants’ stories can help us campaign for better laws for tenants.

Minimum time limits

Termination orders section 549(3)

If you need more time than the minimum time limits set by the law, you should ask for this at the hearing, and provide reasons why, before any final Order is made. Below are the minimum time limits you must be given after VCAT makes the possession order:

0 days notice

If a tenant:

  • caused damage
  • caused danger
  • was violent, on certain properties

if the property:

  • is destroyed or unfit to live in.

14 days or more

if a tenant:

  • was threatening or intimidating
  • didn’t comply with an existing VCAT compensation or compliance order
  • transferred (assigned) the lease to someone else without the landlord’s consent
  • sublet the property without the landlord’s consent
  • used the property for an illegal purpose
  • committed an indictable offence (for public housing tenants)
  • committed drug offences, such as trafficking, supplying, cultivating etc (for public housing tenants)
  • misled the landlord about their eligibility for public housing (for public housing tenants)

 28 days or more

If a tenant:

  • has failed to comply with their obligations under their agreement, including not paying rent when they could have without experiencing severe hardship
  • kept a pet after VCAT had made an order for it to be excluded (removed)

30 days or more notice

if a tenant:

  • in a public housing property, provided as transitional housing, has refused to seek, or refused to accept an offer for, alternative accommodation if the landlord has published requirements for this.

 60 days or more notice

if the landlord:

  • is selling
  • needs to move in (or their family)

for public housing properties:

  • repairs, renovations, rebuilding are required that can’t be done with a tenant in the property, or if the property needs to be demolished.
  • the property is needed for a public purpose

90 days or more notice

if the person is no longer eligible for public housing

Illegal evictions

If the landlord or agent does not follow all the steps in the law, if they threaten to evict you or if they attempt to illegally evict you, write a letter asking them to abide by the law and stop breaching your rights.

Also see restraining orders and illegal evictions

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