Resolving renting disputes

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Disputes can often be settled without going to VCAT. If talking about it does not fix the problem, you can put it in writing.

We may be able to help resolve the issue. As a last resort, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

On this page:

Common dispute topics

If you are looking for the rules on specific topics see:

For the following urgent issues, contact us straight away:

  • Illegal evictions: If you believe you are being illegally evicted from your rental property, call us on 1300 55 81 81.
  • Urgent repairs: If you have an urgent repair issue in your rental property and the rental provider or property manager does not respond quickly, use our General enquiry form.

How to resolve disputes

Disputes can often be settled without going to VCAT:

Talking about disputes

Talking about the issue should be your first step. You should:

  • explain the problem and say how you would like it resolved
  • tell the other person what obligations you think they are not meeting.

If you can agree how to solve the problem, make sure you record this in writing.

If you cannot agree, you can either put the complaint in writing or, if there has been a ‘breach of duty’, you can issue a breach of duty notice. For more information on breach of duty notices, view When a renter or rental provider breaks the law.

Putting requests and complaints in writing

If you want to inform the other person of a problem or issue, you can put it in writing using a standard notice.

Renters should use this notice to tell rental providers (landlords):

  • non-urgent repairs are required
  • you have arranged and paid for urgent repairs and you need to be repaid
  • you have paid utility charges that are not your responsibility and you need to be repaid
  • you caused or became aware of damage to the premises
  • you are terminating the tenancy agreement before moving in
  • you intend to vacate because the premises have been destroyed or are unfit for human habitation.

Rental providers should use this notice to tell renters:

  • you have paid utility charges that are not your responsibility and require reimbursement
  • the renter has damaged the premises and must repair the damage at their expense
  • you have repaired damage and the renter is liable for the cost of the repairs
  • you want to enter the property
  • you are terminating the tenancy agreement before the renter moves in because the premises have been destroyed or are unfit for human habitation
  • you intend to apply to the VCAT to terminate a fixed term agreement.

If you have issued a notice and the dispute is still unresolved, contact us for advice on your next steps. We may:

  • advise you of the follow-up form you will need to issue
  • advise you to apply to VCAT.

Issuing a breach of duty notice

When someone breaks the rental agreement or law in a way that is defined as a breach of duty law, you should send a breach of duty notice. Both renters and rental providers can do this.

This can be the first step in ending a rental agreement. For more information, see 'If the breach is not fixed or happens again' on When a renter or rental provider breaks the law.

Going to VCAT

VCAT can help resolve disputes when other steps have not worked. 

If you need to go to VCAT you will need to provide evidence for your case. You should keep any evidence of breaches of duty or other disputes. This might include letters, emails or phone calls, evidence of losses, photos or videos, or receipts if you are asking to be repaid for something.
Find out more about what VCAT can do to resolve residential rental disputes.

Estimated timeframes to VCAT

COVID-19 has impacted normal timeframes for residential tenancy hearings. VCAT prioritises cases that the renting laws say must be heard within a certain time, and those considered urgent.

To learn more about whether your type of dispute is impacted, visit Before you apply – Residential tenancy at VCAT.

Our dispute services

In some cases, we may offer our voluntary dispute services to help rental providers and renters reach an agreement. For example, when:

  • there is proof Victorian renting laws were not followed, or
  • the rental provider and renter have tried to fix the problem but were not successful.

Our services are there for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, and those who need it most. For more information, view the Dispute services section - Our compliance policy.

Further help

Help for renters

Renters in the private rental market who are financially disadvantaged or experiencing family violence can get help with dispute resolution from the Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program.

Dear Landlord is a free self-help tool which helps renters who are facing eviction for being behind in rent. It can help renters understand their options and identify actions they can take depending on their circumstances, including drafting a payment plan request to the rental provider, preparing a VCAT review application, and finding further financial or legal help.

Disputes between renters

We cannot help with disputes between renters. Instead, contact the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

Commercial or retail lease disputes

Our information and dispute services only apply in limited circumstances to commercial or retail leases.

For more information about commercial or retail leases, visit Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC).

Help for older renters

Renters aged 55 years or more can get advice and support from HAAG.

Residents in retirement villages

Older, financially disadvantaged Victorians living in retirement villages can seek assistance from the state-wide Retirement Housing Assistance and Advocacy Program (RHAAP).

For a list of other organisations that can help with renting matters, view the Renting section on Who to go to for help.

Forms you might need

Breach of duty notices 

Notices – from renters to rental providers

Notices – from rental providers to renters

Sections of the Act

If you want to know what the law says about resolving renting disputes, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:

  • Section 452 – General applications to the Tribunal.