Resolving renting disputes

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What you can do to resolve a dispute

If you are having problems with your landlord or tenant, first try to resolve the issue by speaking directly with them about the problem.

Our website has information on a range of tenancy issues including:

  • rental bonds
  • lease agreements
  • repairs and maintenance
  • rent increases
  • rights and obligations of landlords and tenants
  • notice periods
  • goods left behind.

If you reach an agreement with your landlord or tenant, put the agreement in writing and have it signed by both parties.

If you have not reached an agreement and either party wishes to take the matter further, a notice must be issued. Notices can be downloaded from our Forms and publications page.

Conciliation

Consumer Affairs Victoria’s free conciliation service can help resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. In accordance with our Conciliation policy, we can only conciliate a dispute if:

  • the complaint is within our jurisdiction and not that of another organisation
  • the landlord's conduct is alleged to be a breach of consumer legislation administered by us
  • our involvement would promote consumer rights and encourage business compliance
  • the tenant or landlord has attempted to resolve the dispute without success
  • the dispute has not arisen from a breach of contract by either party
  • there is a reasonable chance of obtaining a resolution through conciliation
  • the matter has not been, and is not scheduled to be, heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Although we can help resolve a dispute, as our service is voluntary we cannot compel a landlord or agent to engage in conciliation or resolve an issue. If conciliation does not resolve your problem, you will be given information about other options.

Tenant advocacy services

Tenant advocacy services can provide advice, assistance and support for tenants who are renting in either the private or public rental market.

Tenants Union of Victoria (TUV)

The TUV provides advice, assistance and advocacy for all tenants. They can help you:

  • fill in forms or agreements relating to your tenancy
  • by providing advice on problems such as repairs or rent increases
  • by negotiating and advocating on your behalf with your landlord or agent
  • by assisting or representing you at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

For more information, visit the Tenants Union Victoria website.

Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG)

HAAG provides free and confidential advice and information on housing options for older people who need to find more affordable and secure accommodation.

HAAG also provides advice and support to older people if they are having difficulties such as:

  • keeping up with their rent
  • living in housing that is in poor condition and needs repair
  • having problems with their tenancy agreements.

For more information, visit the Housing for the Aged Action Group website.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

VCAT operates like a court but is not as formal. It hears a range of disputes, including contractual between tenants and landlords.

Application forms are available on the VCAT website. Once you have applied for your case to be heard, VCAT will inform you of the date, time and place of the hearing. Hearings take place in the city, suburbs and country Victoria.

It is important to be prepared for a hearing. The VCAT member will hear and consider all the evidence presented from both sides. This might include listening to evidence from witnesses or looking at photographs and other documents brought to the hearing by you or the other party.

VCAT can provide interpreters for parties directly involved in a dispute. If a party to a dispute requires an interpreter, VCAT must be told at the time of the application. VCAT will then arrange for an interpreter free of charge. Friends or relatives are generally not allowed to interpret.

VCAT’s decisions are usually made on the day of the hearing; they must be obeyed by both parties in the same way as a court order.

VCAT will also consider urgent hearings in cases of extreme hardship. You must include a letter outlining the reasons why a matter is urgent when you lodge your application.

Disputes about commercial/retail leases

Our renting information does not apply to commercial/retail leases. Our jurisdiction covers only residential leases.

If you rent a property mainly as your home, but also run a business there, our information may be relevant to you if the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act) applies. For example, if the retail premises also includes a residential premises which is not leased to the retail tenant, then the tenant in the residential part of the premises is covered by the Act.

A dispute resolution service for commercial/retail tenancy matters is available from the Victorian Small Business Commissioner (VSBC) website.

Last updated: 24/04/2017

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