Challenging a notice to vacate

Skip listen and sharing tools

A renter, resident or site tenant can challenge a notice to vacate if they:

  • believe it was not given to them properly 
  • disagree with the reason given on the notice. 

Someone can also challenge a notice to vacate if they were experiencing family violence and the person using violence was the person whose actions or behaviour resulted in the notice to vacate. 

A notice to vacate is a formal statement that the rental provider (landlord) wants to end the rental agreement (lease). If a renter does not leave after receiving a notice to vacate, the rental provider can apply to VCAT for an eviction or possession order which can be enforced by police. A rental provider cannot personally evict a renter. 

Renters or residents who think they have a good reason to challenge a notice to vacate should ask for advice immediately, either from Consumer Affairs Victoria or an advocacy service such as Tenants Victoria

These rules apply to renters and residents in residential properties, rooming houses, caravan parks and residential (Part 4A) parks. 

On this page: 

How to challenge a notice to vacate 

Renters or residents who want to challenge a notice to vacate can apply to VCAT. VCAT will make a decision about whether or not the notice to vacate was valid. 

Renters and residents should be aware that if they apply to VCAT and their challenge is not successful, they may have to pay the rental provider’s VCAT application fee. 

Timeframes for challenging a notice to vacate

The renter or resident must apply to VCAT within 30 days of getting a notice to vacate if the property is: 

  • being repaired 
  • being demolished 
  • going to be used for business 
  • going to be used by the rental provider or someone in their family 
  • going to be sold 
  • owned by a government authority who needs it for public use.

If you’ve been given an immediate notice to vacate, there is no time limit to apply to VCAT. However, if you want to challenge the notice, you should apply to VCAT as soon as possible. If you don’t, and the rental provider applies to VCAT for a possession order you could be evicted. However, you can challenge the notice at VCAT’s hearing for the possession order.  

If you are applying to VCAT using mail instead of the online application, make sure you allow enough time for delivery. The Australia Post website can help calculate delivery times.  

Challenging a notice to vacate because of family violence

If you are experiencing family violence and the person using violence was the person whose actions or behaviour resulted in the notice to vacate, you can apply to VCAT if the notice was for any of the following reasons: 

  • a renter or their visitor caused serious damage intentionally or recklessly to the property, including safety equipment and common areas 
  • a renter or their visitor puts neighbours, the rental provider, their agent, or the rental provider or agent’s contractors or employees, in danger 
  • a renter or anyone else living in the rental property seriously threatens or intimidates the rental provider or their agent, or the rental provider or agent’s contractors or employees
  • a renter has failed to comply with a VCAT order 
  • a renter has already been given two breach of duty notices and the same breach occurs 
  • the property is being used for illegal purposes 
  • a renter has been involved in a drug-related activity in public housing 
  • a resident has disrupted the peaceful enjoyment of other residents (in rooming houses and caravan parks).

In this situation, you must apply to VCAT within 30 days. Find out more about family violence when renting. 

How to contact Consumer Affairs Victoria 

If you need help with challenging a notice to vacate, you can contact us. 

We currently have limited phone services. You can call us on 1300 55 81 81 (9am to 5pm, 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. 

Renting law reforms  

Victoria made significant changes to renting laws in 2021.  

One of the major changes to laws about challenging a notice to vacate is that: 

  •  A renter or resident can now challenge a notice to vacate if the conduct cited in the notice to vacate was committed by a perpetrator of family violence. 

Some language also changed: 

  • Landlords are now called rental providers 
  • Tenants are now called renters 
  • Leases are now called rental agreements.

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 challenging a notice to vacate, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997

  • Section 91ZZS – Renter may apply to Tribunal 
  • Section 91ZZU – Renter may challenge notice to vacate on grounds of family violence or personal violence.