Co-owned land and goods
You can apply to us if you want us to make an order for the sale or division of co-owned land or goods. We hear these applications under the Property Law Act 1958.
Cases VCAT can hear
VCAT can hear co-ownership disputes where:
- one co-owner wants to sell land or goods but the other co-owner does not agree
- co-owners agree to the sale of land or goods but cannot agree on how to sell the land or goods, e.g. choosing between auction or private sale, choosing the selling agent or conveyancer.
- co-owners cannot agree on how the net proceeds of sale should be distributed between them after sale
- one co-owner wants the other co-owner to account to them for rent received or pay compensation for expenses incurred
- one co-owner wants the land or goods to be divided differently to what is shown on the certificate of title or other documentation.
Cases VCAT cannot hear
You must be a co-owner to apply to us to hear a co-ownership dispute. If you are not a co-owner, we cannot make any orders under the Property Law Act 1958. For example, if your dispute only concerns how much money the other co-owners received after the co-owned land was sold, then it may be too late to make an application. This is because once ownership in the land or goods has been transferred to the buyer, you no longer have an interest in the land or goods. This means that you are no longer defined as a co-owner in the Property Law Act 1958.
We cannot hear claims which relate solely to money, even if the money is jointly owned. This is because money is excluded from the definition of goods under the Property Law Act 1958.
Before you apply to VCAT you should contact the other party and see if you can settle the dispute between you. Before making an application to VCAT you must ensure you can identify the correct name of the person or company who is the respondent in your case, including their postal address, contact details and ABN or ACN if relevant. Contact ASIC to confirm company status and address. Read more about what to do before you apply to VCAT.
To start your application to VCAT fill in the correct application form. You must also pay the application fee. If you are claiming against a company, you must provide formal documents from ASIC showing the company's status and registered address. Read more in apply to start a case.
After we receive and process your application, we will tell you by post whether you will need to attend mediation, a directions hearing or proceed directly to a hearing. Usually, your case will be referred to a mediation to be conducted by a mediator appointed by us. We do not charge any additional fee for arranging this mediation. In more complex cases, we will refer your case to a directions hearing, at which time we will determine how to progress your application. Read more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.
We encourage you to negotiate with the other party to try to reach agreement. We can help you resolve your dispute by agreement with the other party using mediation or a compulsory conference rather than by VCAT deciding your case for you at a hearing. Learn more about resolving a case by agreement.
Many cases at VCAT are decided at a hearing. Prepare early so you can present the best possible case. Make sure you give others enough time to assist you prepare or to appear as witnesses at the hearing. For information to help you prepare for the hearing, see how to prepare for your final hearing.
Arrive at VCAT with plenty of time so that you are not late for your hearing. When your case is called, move into the hearing room and wait for the member to open your case.
At a final hearing, we consider the evidence originally presented with the application, as well as any additional evidence that you or the other party may provide to VCAT. In these cases the hearing may be adjourned to further hearing date. We will make a decision according to the law at the time of our decision. Read more about what happens on final hearing day.
The VCAT member may give their decision at the end of the hearing. If they need more time they usually give a decision within six weeks of the last hearing date or the date when any further written submissions are filed with us. The VCAT member may give reasons for the decision verbally or in writing. If the decision has been given verbally, and you want the reasons in writing, you must make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.
Professional representation at VCAT
You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. In most cases, VCAT must first approve having someone else represent you, and all other parties in the case must agree. In many cases in the Building and Property List all parties are represented by agreement. If you are represented by a legal or other professional representative, we will only communicate with them. Read more about professional representation at VCAT.
Remember your reference number
VCAT gives you a reference number for your case. Use this number whenever you call or write to us or the other people involved in the case.
Access and privacy
VCAT hearings and files are usually public.
VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. Learn more about applying for confidentiality.
If you need assistance at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loop, video or telephone links or family violence support) please tell us as early as possible so we can support you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.