If you have conditions that make you exceptionally vulnerable to COVID-19, you can apply to VCAT to make an order that you be “exempted” from certain provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) such as entry by other people into your rented home. This exemption can apply either for a period of time or, in some circumstances, indefinitely. VCAT can attach other conditions.
Given the risk some people face when exposed unnecessarily to third-party contact in the home, this is the best opportunity to raise these concerns and ask for orders restricting entry to the home.
Obtaining a VCAT Order under these provisions is rare. However, given that the government hasn’t put in place other protections, applying for such an order at least gives VCAT the power and opportunity to address the individuals concerned.
To prove that you have grounds to be exempted from part of the Act (such as the entry provisions), you must show that “in all the circumstances, the application of the provision of this Act would occasion severe hardship to the applicant” (s25(3) Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)).
It is unlikely to prevent evictions, but we have never experienced a pandemic before.
The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 is likely to be useful in such applications. For more information see: The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and the Residential Tenancies Act (PDF)
How to apply
All disputes must go to Consumer Affairs Victoria before they can go to VCAT. Consumer Affairs Victoria decides if the dispute goes to alternative dispute resolution or to VCAT for a decision. Either way, you should have the chance to give your side of the story.
Apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria first: Rental dispute initial assessment [CAV website]
- If Consumer Affairs Victoria decides the dispute should go to VCAT, they will give you a reference number to include in your VCAT application.
- Consumer Affairs Victoria may need to assess the dispute further before issuing a reference number.
- If you need to make an urgent application to VCAT for an exemption, we recommend you call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 558 181 and request they give you a reference number over the phone to allow you to make an urgent application.
TIP: we recommend you have your VCAT application ready so you can lodge it with VCAT as soon as Consumer Affairs Victoria gives you a reference number.