VCAT applications – temporary COVID-19 measures
Please note: while the temporary COVID-19 measures are in place, all VCAT applications/disputes need to first be registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), who must consider whether further assessment is required or if the application can be heard by VCAT.
If Consumer Affairs Victoria considers further assessment is required, this may include referring the dispute, if suitable, to alternative dispute resolution for mediation, conciliation and/or adjudication, before the application could be made to VCAT.
It is our understanding that applications to:
- end a tenancy early because of severe hardship under section 543 of the Act, or
- terminate and create a tenancy agreement under section 233A of the Act
will be fast-tracked by CAV to avoid delays in having the applications heard by VCAT, if suitable. CAV’s “Rental dispute initial assessment” page allows applicants to select these options to alert CAV that the application is urgent.
For more information on the Dispute Resolution Scheme see: coronavirus (COVID-19) guide for renters: eviction [Tenants Victoria website].
If the affected person has an intervention order that excludes the perpetrator from the rental address, you can use: Application by a Protected Person [VCAT website]. This form is also available from the VCAT office.
In this form, the affected person is called the protected person, and the perpetrator is called excluded tenant.
Filling in the application form
In the first few sections of the application form you need to include names and contact details of all current tenants (including the perpetrator), anyone who wants to become a tenant and the landlord. If any of these people has someone else representing them, you also need to include those names and contact details on the form.
If you don’t want the perpetrator to find out the affected person’s address and contact details, write “confidential” on the form and attach a separate sheet with these details for VCAT.
Excluded tenant details
- Landlord’s representative: This could be a real estate agent or lawyer.
- Tenant’s representative: This could be a lawyer, social worker, family member or friend.
This is where you write the rented address. In this section you also tell VCAT if children live there, if there is any damage to the property and if the excluded tenant is appealing the decision to exclude them from the rented address.
Previous VCAT applications
If there were any previous VCAT applications between the landlord and the tenants, you must include the VCAT file numbers. You can find the file numbers on the notice of hearing or the orders made by VCAT. Or you can contact VCAT.
- Include names of the tenants who paid the bond, the amounts they paid and the bond number from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA).
- If the affected person doesn’t have a copy of the bond receipt, they can call the RTBA on 1300 137 164 and ask for the bond number. The bond number can be used on the RTBA website (rentalbonds.vic.gov.au) to get written confirmation of the bond details, which should be attached to the VCAT application.
Claim details: What do you want VCAT to do?
See some examples:
- Applying for a new lease – so the affected person can stay
- Applying to reduce a fixed-term lease – so the affected person can leave early
- Applying for a decision about damages caused by the perpetrator
- Interpreter: The affected person can request an interpreter for the hearing on the application form.
- Special assistance: The affected person can also ask for other special assistance on the form.
- The affected person can ask VCAT to use the remote witness room for the hearing so they don’t have to be in the same room as the perpetrator. However the remote witness room is only available if the hearing is held in Melbourne at 55 King Street.
- If the affected person is not able to attend a hearing in Melbourne, they could request to give evidence by telephone. You need to complete a telephone attendance request [VCAT website].
- Security: If you think security is needed contact VCAT after you submit the form.
Service of application
- A copy of the application will need to be “served” (sent by mail or handed personally) to all tenants (including the perpetrator), the landlord and anyone who wants to be added to the lease. In this section you must write when and how these copies were served.
- We recommend you send all copies by registered post so that you can prove “service” by showing VCAT the receipt.
- If affected person does not know the perpetrator’s current address, they could serve the application by as many methods as possible: to an address or email address for the perpetrator in the intervention order, to an address of a family member or close friend that the perpetrator is likely to be in contact with. You can even send a text message to notify the perpetrator that the application has been sent to that address. The affected person will need to ask VCAT for an order that they can serve the application this way (order for substituted service) when they get to the hearing.
- Fee waiver: The affected person can request a fee waiver due to financial hardship or if they have a concession card. They need to fill in and attach the fee relief form [VCAT website].
- No fee for protected persons: If the affected person is a protected person under a family violence or personal safety intervention order, there is no cost for an application to reduce.
- VCAT application fee: Otherwise, the affected person must pay the VCAT fee, which from 1 July 2019 is $65.30.
Documents to support the application
The affected person should attach evidence to support their case, such as:
- copy of the lease (or other proof that they are renting the property such as a rent certificate from Centrelink or rent receipts)
- copy of the current intervention order
- proof of connection to the local area (such as copies of letters from support services) if they want a lease to be created in their name
- proof of ability to meet the obligations of the lease (such as ability to pay, rental history)
- proof of costs that they want VCAT to order the perpetrator pay for and the reason that they should pay. For example, a copy of a utility bill, police report or photo in relation to damage that the perpetrator caused.
This information is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.
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