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

Eviction (rooming houses)

Illegal evictions

It is illegal for a rooming house owner (or someone they ask) to lock you out, or to force or threaten you to leave your room. Only the police can lawfully evict you – and only if they have a warrant.

How to stop illegal evictions

Call the police

If the owner tries to physically evict you or change the locks you should call the police immediately to remove the owner (and anyone else) from your room.

Apply for a restraining order

If you think that the rooming house owner is going to try to illegally evict you, you can apply to the VCAT for a Restraining Order.

Apply for an urgent VCAT hearing

If you have been illegally evicted, you should immediately apply (in person if possible) for an urgent hearing at VCAT. They can put a Restraining Order on the rooming house owner and order them to allow you to move back in.

Claim compensation

If the owner’s illegal actions have caused you inconvenience, costs, loss or damage to your goods, you can ask for compensation.

Make a complaint

You should also write a complaint to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria who can fine the rooming house owner. If the owner is convicted, the penalty (from 1 July 2020) is up to $9913.20 for a person, or $49,566 for a body corporate.

Complaints – Residential accommodation complaint [Consumer Affairs Victoria website]
Penalties – Penalties – renting [Consumer Affairs Victoria website]

Legal steps for eviction

The rooming house owner cannot evict you unless all these things happen first:

  • there is a valid Notice to Vacate, and
  • there is a VCAT hearing, and
  • VCAT makes a Possession Order, and
  • VCAT issues a Warrant of Possession.

What you can do

If you get a notice to vacate

If you get a Notice to Vacate and you do not want to be evicted, contact us for advice. We can help you check if there are any reasons to challenge the notice and help you prepare your response.

If the owner applies to VCAT

If the owner applies to VCAT, they must send you a copy of their VCAT application and any evidence they want to use at the hearing.

If you think you’ll be evicted

If you think it is likely you will be evicted, it is a good idea to make plans before the hearing so you will have somewhere to stay. There is a chance that you could be evicted on the same day or at short notice.

If you have nowhere to go, call 1800 825 955  (24 hour, statewide, toll free number) or find a local service: crisis accommodation: getting help [DHHS website].

Also see: other services that can help [HOUSING.vic.gov.au].

If there is a VCAT hearing

When a VCAT hearing is booked, VCAT will send you a Notice of Hearing that tells you the time, date and place of the hearing.

You must go to the hearing if you do not want to be evicted. If you do not go to the hearing it is most likely that the Possession Order will be granted and you will be evicted.

By going to the hearing you will have the chance to challenge the landlord’s reason for wanting to evict you. If VCAT finds that the rooming house owner should not have given you the Notice to Vacate, the owner will not get a Possession Order and you will be allowed to stay.

If VCAT makes a Possession Order

If VCAT finds that the Notice to Vacate was valid and the owner followed all the right steps, they will grant the owner a Possession Order. This allows the owner to take out a Warrant of Possession, which gives the police the power to evict you.

If you miss the VCAT hearing

If you did not go to the hearing, but you find out that VCAT made a Possession Order, you can apply to VCAT for a rehearing. There is no fee for applying for a review hearing, but you must have a good reason for not going.

You need to do this before the police evict you, because if you have been legally evicted VCAT has no power to get you back into the property.

If possible, you should apply for an urgent review hearing by going to VCAT in person. If you live in the country or are unable to get to VCAT, you should phone and ask them how to apply for a review hearing.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
55 King Street Melbourne 3000
1300 01 8228(1300 01 VCAT)
fax (03) 9628 9822
Open 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday

When you apply for a review hearing, you should ask VCAT to contact the police and ask them to put a stop on the warrant until further notice. You should also call the police yourself to confirm this.

If there is a review hearing

At the review hearing you will need to convince VCAT that you had a good reason for not going to the original hearing. If VCAT accepts your explanation, they will set aside their earlier decision and a new hearing will go ahead.

When will I be evicted?

When the owner gives the warrant to the police, the police usually have to carry out the eviction within 14 days – in some special cases VCAT will set this at 30 days.

NOTE: You could be evicted on the same day as the hearing. It is possible for VCAT to make a Possession Order with the same date as the hearing. And if the owner gets a Warrant of Possession on the same day and gives the warrant straight to the police, the police could evict you on that day.

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