Evictions and possession orders

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Rental providers (landlords) must follow strict rules before evicting renters, otherwise it is an illegal eviction. 

Only Victoria Police can carry out a forcible eviction and only when they have a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) order. 

Rental providers cannot personally use force to remove a renter if they refuse to leave the property. 

If you are facing eviction and do not know what to do, contact us or a tenancy advocacy service such as Tenants Victoria as soon as possible.  

On this page: 

How evictions work

Rental providers must follow these steps to legally evict a renter: 

  1. Give the renter the official written notice called a notice to vacate
  2. Apply to VCAT for a possession order
  3. Receive a warrant of possession 
  4. Give the warrant of possession to the police, which gives police the power to evict the renter
 If these steps are not followed, it is an illegal eviction. 

Rental providers cannot lock out renters or personally carry out an eviction.  

Only the police can evict a renter and only when they have a warrant of possession from VCAT.  

Notices to vacate

A notice to vacate says that a rental provider wants to end the rental agreement (lease). 

Rental providers can only apply for a possession order after giving a notice to vacate. Renters can challenge a notice to vacate

Depending on the reason for the notice, rental providers can either apply immediately for a possession order or must wait. See a list of timeframes

Possession orders

A possession order is issued by VCAT and says the resident must move out of the property.  

A rental provider may apply for a possession order  when a resident gets a notice to vacate but does not move out on the date they are supposed to. The possession order will  usually be made at a possession hearing. 

Renters will be told when and where the hearing will be. If they want to stay in the property, they must attend the hearing and dispute the claim. 

If the rental provider has applied for a possession order VCAT will consider whether it is reasonable and proportionate to make a possession order. VCAT will consider:  

  • how often the rules have been broken 
  • how serious the breach of duty is 
  • whether it was the renter who broke the rules 
  • if family violence was involved 
  • if the breach can be (or has already been) fixed 
  • the behaviour of the renter and rental provider 
  • alternatives to making the possession order. 
VCAT will consider the effect on everyone involved. This includes the renter and anyone they live or rent with, the rental provider, neighbours, or any other person who might be affected by the renter’s actions. 

VCAT may decide to: 

  • grant the possession order, telling the renter to leave 
  • dismiss the application, allowing the renter to stay 
  • dismiss the application and instead make a compliance order, telling the renter to follow the rules. 
 Renters who did not attend a possession hearing can apply for a rehearing or urgent review of the possession order. They will need to have a good reason for not attending the original hearing for VCAT to change the order.  

Possession orders relating to unpaid rent

VCAT may pause or dismiss an application for a possession order if the notice to vacate was for unpaid rent, and VCAT thinks that other arrangements can be made to prevent the rental provider from losing money.  

VCAT may pause the hearing to get more information about the renter’s financial status. If VCAT has paused the hearing, they may make a possession order if the rent still has not been paid. If the rent has been paid, VCAT will dismiss the application.   

VCAT will dismiss the application if the renter has had 4 or less notices to vacate for unpaid rent within 12 months, and the rent has been paid by the time of the hearing.   

Possession orders relating to damage, danger or threats

If the possession order relates to a notice to vacate that has been given because of damage, danger, or threats, VCAT may choose not to make a possession order. Sometimes VCAT may make an order requiring:  

  • the renter to fix the damage; and  
  • not repeat the behaviour which caused the notice to vacate. 

Warrant of possession to remove a renter 

Rental providers can apply to VCAT for a warrant of possession if the renter does not leave by the date in the possession order. 

A warrant of possession allows the police to evict a renter forcibly from the property. 

Rental providers can apply for the warrant:  

  • immediately, if the possession order allows for it, or
  • within six months after the date of the order, if the renter does not comply with it.  
 Once granted, warrants are only valid for a period of time, usually 14 days. 

Renters can ask VCAT to postpone the eviction for up to 30 days under some circumstances. See Postponing eviction below for more details. . 

Evictions

Only Victoria Police can carry out a forcible eviction and only when they are acting on a warrant of possession granted by VCAT. 

Renters can contact their local police to ask when they will carry out the eviction. 

A warrant of possession does not give rental providers the right to remove a renter’s belongings. Rental providers cannot refuse to return a person’s belongings, even if the person owes rent. See Goods left behind by renters

Postponing eviction  

During the hearing for a possession order, renters can ask VCAT to postpone the eviction for up to 30 days if they will face serious hardship if they are evicted.

Postponement of the eviction cannot be requested after the VCAT possession order hearing. To be granted a postponement, the hardship for renters will need to be greater than any hardship the rental provider will experience if the eviction is postponed. 

An eviction will not be postponed if the renter was given notice to vacate the rented premises for: 

  • causing serious damage  
  • endangering safety 
  • seriously threatening or intimidating  
  • where the premises are unsafe or unfit for human habitation  
  • interrupting the peaceful enjoyment of the premises where the renter is a resident in a rooming house, caravan park or residential park or village. 

A postponement of a warrant can be cancelled and the warrant issued without delay if the renter:  

  • fails to pay any accrued rent 
  • fails to comply with the rental agreement, or  
  • breaks the rules. 

Illegal evictions 

Call us on 1300 55 81 81 if you believe you are being illegally evicted from your rental property. 

Timeframes for possession orders

This table lists the timeframes for when a rental provider can apply to VCAT for a possession order after giving the renter a notice to vacate. Timeframes vary depending on the reason why the notice was given. 

Renters can challenge a notice to vacate

 Reason for notice to vacate

Minimum notice required

When a rental provider can apply for a possession order

  • The renter owes at least 14 days’ rent. 
 14 days
At any time after the termination date in the notice, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice.

This does not apply if it is the first, second, third or fourth occasion of non-payment of rent in a 12-month period and the renter has paid their rent arrears by the termination date. 
  • The renter or any other person occupying the rented premises has seriously threatened or intimidated the rental provider or the provider's agent, or their contractors or employees.  
  • The renter has not paid the bond as agreed. 
  • The renter has failed to comply with a VCAT order 
  • The renter has breached a duty owed under a duty provision for the third time (and been given a breach of duty notice twice before). 
  • The renter is using the premises for an illegal purpose. 
  • The renter has engaged in a drug-related activity in public housing. 
  • The renter has a child living at the premises when the agreement does not allow children. 
  • The rental provider is a government housing authority and the renter misled the authority so they could be accepted as a renter. 
  • The renter has brought in other renters or sub-letters without consent. 
  • The rental provider wishes to end the fixed-term rental agreement to occupy the rented premises, which is the rental provider’s principal place of residence. 
 14 days

At any time after the notice to vacate is given, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice.

  • VCAT has made an order that a pet cannot be kept at the rental premise, at least 14 days have passed, and the renter has not complied with the VCAT order. 
 28 days

At any time after the notice to vacate is given, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice. 

  • Planned reconstruction, repairs or renovations (for which all necessary permits have been obtained) cannot be properly carried out unless the renter vacates. 
  • The premises are to be demolished and all necessary permits have been obtained. 
  • The rental provider wants to use the premises for a business or another purpose. 
  • The rental provider, a member of their immediate family or a dependent (who normally lives with the rental provider) will be moving into the premises. 
  • The premises are to be sold. 
  • A government authority owns the premises and is compulsorily acquiring the premises for a public purpose. 
 60 days

At any time after the notice to vacate is given, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice. 

  • The renter has served a notice of intention to vacate the rented premises but has not moved out by the end date. 
 28 days

After the end date specified in the notice to vacate, but not more than 30 days after that date. 

  • A mortgagee has served a notice to vacate as part of exercising right to possession and sale under a mortgage.
 60 days

After the end date specified in the notice to vacate, but not more than 30 days after that date.

  • The rental provider has served a notice to end a fixed-term tenancy and the renter has not moved out by the end date.
 
  • 60 days if the fixed-term agreement was less than 6 months 

  • 90 days if the fixed-term agreement was 6 months or more

On or after the end date specified in the notice to vacate, but not more than 30 days after that date. 

If a sole renter dies and the rental provider cannot find the deceased’s legal personal representative or next of kin to work out an end date for the rental agreement, the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a possession order. To find out more, go to If a renter or rental provider dies.
 

Timeframes for possession orders in rooming houses and caravan parks 

In some cases, the operator or owner of a rooming house, caravan park or caravan must wait until the end date on the notice to vacate before they can apply for a possession order.  

Find out more about: 

 Reason for notice to vacate

Minimum notice required

When the owner can apply to VCAT for permission

The rooming house operator has given the resident a notice to vacate the room. 
Various

After the notice to vacate is given, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice.

The caravan park owner or caravan owner has given the resident a notice to vacate the site or caravan. 
Various

After the notice to vacate is given, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice.

The resident has given the rooming house owner a notice of intention to vacate the room. 
2 days

7 days after the date the notice of intention to vacate is given, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice.

The resident has given the caravan park owner or caravan owner a notice of intention to vacate the site or caravan. 
7 days

7 days after the date the notice of intention to vacate is given, but not more than 30 days after the end date in the notice.

Getting help 

Contact Consumer Affairs Victoria 

You can call us on 1300 55 81 81 (9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday). 

Calling us costs the same as a local call. Additional charges may apply if you are calling from overseas, on a mobile or payphone. You can also contact us through our online enquiry form

Your information will stay confidential. 

We may refer you to a community agency for help with a renting issue, through our Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program. We will ask you for permission first. 

Dear Landlord app 

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.

Renting law reforms 

 In March 2021 Victoria introduced new terminology to the rental act. 

  • Landlords are now called rental providers 
  • Tenants are now called renters 

  • Leases are now called rental agreements. 

Some of the major changes to evictions include: 

  • Previously, VCAT was not required to consider reasonableness or proportionality in making a possession order. 

You can read about these and other changes in a summary of the reforms or in detailed fact sheets and guides.  

Sections of the Act 

If you want to know what the law says about evictions and possession orders, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997

  • Part 7 – Regaining possession – Possession orders and warrants.