Join a VCAT case - Owners corporations disputes

If you’re involved in an owners corporations case or want to join, find out what your options are and what you need to do.

Join a VCAT case

If you’re a member of an owners corporation you may get notified that an application that involves the owners corporation has been submitted to VCAT. If you think this might involve or affect you, you may be able to apply to join the VCAT case or ‘join as a party’.

As a joined party, you can participate in the case and have your views heard. You may be able to join the case as an applicant, a respondent, or just as a joined party. 

There are three ways you can join:

  • You can ask us to join you to the case and explain how you’re affected by the dispute or possible outcome.
  • We can also decide to join someone as a party. This can happen at any time during the VCAT process. We do this when we think that a person may be affected by the decision.
  • An applicant or respondent can ask us to join someone. If you’re the applicant or respondent, to do this you need to give us their name, address and details of how the person is affected by the dispute or possible outcome.

A person may be removed as a party if another party asks, or if we decide they are not ‘a proper or necessary party’ in the case.

Get help and advice before you apply

We can’t give you legal advice or tell you what to write in your application. These organisations may be able to help you.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)

Information and advice on renting and accommodation, estate agents, building, shopping and trading.

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria

Free help with disputes about property, trees, fences, owners corporations and retirement villages.

Strata Community Association

Get news and information about issues affecting owners corporations.

How to apply to join

If you want to apply to join a case:

  • if your situation is urgent, contact us for advice
  • fill in the application form to ask for orders and a directions hearing.

How much VCAT costs

There is generally no fee for you to join a VCAT case, but there may be other costs you need to pay. For example, if you:

  • make a counterclaim (your own claim against the other party)
  • decide to use a lawyer
  • have expert witnesses prepare evidence for you.

What happens next

1 We receive an application to join you as a party or you ask to join as a party

Go to next step.

2 Come to VCAT for a directions hearing

The VCAT member will consider your reasons and decide if you will be joined as a party.

The member may tell you to make your own application. You may have to pay a fee. Your application may be heard at the same time as the original application.

If you’re joined, the member makes an order to name you as an interested party, an applicant or a respondent.

3 We give you a notice of hearing

When you are joined to the case, we give you a notice for the final hearing. Check the date, time and location for the hearing. This is shown on the notice we gave you. Look at the location and plan how to get there.

You can find out the time and room for your hearing at Upcoming hearings after 4.30pm on the day before your hearing.

4 Come to VCAT

Bring any evidence you want to use to tell your side of the dispute.

5 Get an outcome

If you come to a hearing, the VCAT member makes a decision and gives an order.

An order tells parties how the case has been decided and any action that they must take.

All parties must follow VCAT’s decision. If you don’t understand the order, ask the member. We give you a written order on the day or we send it to you a few weeks after the hearing.

Help and support

  • You can contact the other party (or they can contact you) at any time to try to come to an agreement before the hearing. If you do reach an agreement, you and the other parties must let us know in writing, and copy in the other party, as soon as possible. 

    If you make an offer to settle and you want to keep it confidential, make it in writing to the other party and use the words ‘without prejudice’ in your offer. 

    This means that if your offer is not accepted by the other party, it cannot be discussed at a hearing. 

    You can try and resolve the dispute without VCAT right up until the day of the hearing, and for residential tenancy disputes, in the hearing.
     
    Learn more about how you can settle a dispute outside VCAT

  • To change your VCAT application you need to ask before the final hearing for the change to be made. We can’t always make every type of change to every type of case. For example, if what you are asking is something we cannot deal with or a time limit has passed.

    1. Tell us what you want to change (for example, contact details) and your reasons in writing, by post or by email.
      Find the right email address for your type of case or send a written letter to GPO Box 5408, Melbourne VIC 3000
    2. Include the application reference number and any documents that support the change. 

    3. Tell the other person or business (the other ‘party’) about the change in writing, and send them copies of any new documents.

    VCAT must review and accept your change and we’ll tell you the outcome. 

    Sometimes we’ll arrange a brief session called a ‘directions hearing’ to work out if we’ll allow the change. This often happens when the other person or business involved (the respondent) has a problem with the change.

    Planning cases

    If you are the permit applicant and want to change your application, you need to send the notice and complete the Statement of Service to confirm you’ve shared your documents. 

    To find the right contact details relevant to your dispute, see Contacts and locations.

    See also: Can I change the amount I’m claiming in my application?

  • A change to the date of a directions hearing, mediation, compulsory conference or hearing is called an ‘adjournment’. 
     
    If you can’t come to VCAT on the date we give you, you can ask for a change of date. 

    First, ask the other parties in the case to agree using the Request for consent to an adjournment form

    Then, send us an adjournment application form no later than: 

    • two business days before a directions hearing, mediation or compulsory conference. 
    • five business days before a hearing 

    You must: 

    • give us good reasons for the change, like a sudden illness, accident or bereavement in the family
    • give us evidence in writing to support your reasons (for example, a medical certificate)
    • ask for the change in writing no later than two business days before the directions hearing, mediation or compulsory conference or five days before a final hearing. 

    We may not agree to change the date, even if every person involved in the case agrees.

    A change of date isn’t always possible, and we can’t change the date simply to speed things up. The hearing will go ahead as scheduled if we don’t confirm a new date and time with you.
     
    Download the Adjournment Application Form
     

    See also: What happens if I can't come to VCAT?

  • You can bring someone with you to your hearing for support. This support person could be anyone you choose, including a friend or family member. They can’t usually speak on your behalf, but they can help explain what you need (for example, ask for a break). 

    You can’t bring someone to translate for you.

    If you need an interpreter you must ask us for a VCAT interpreter

    Support for people affected by family violence

    If you are a protected person or responding to a case and under a family violence intervention order, you can choose to bring a support person to VCAT. The support person can be anyone you choose, including a lawyer, social worker, family member or friend.

    Find out more about support for people affected by family violence at VCAT

    If you want someone to speak on your behalf, you must ask for it in writing.

    Template of written authority for someone to represent you

    Use this template to give someone authority to represent you. We call this person an ‘agent’.

    I, <NAME> (or Your Company Pty Ltd, if a company), a party in the VCAT case reference number xxxxx/20xx wish to be represented at VCAT.

    I give permission for <representative's name and occupation> (add 'employed by the company' if you're a company) to represent me.

    The agent has sufficient knowledge of the issues in dispute and has my permission to bind me to any settlement.

    Date xx/xx/xx

    Signed:______________ Name:______________ Position:______________

  • The way VCAT handles your information is based on the legal principle that justice should usually be administered in public, with principles of privacy. 
     
    This means there is a balance between the information we must share and keeping your information confidential.  
     

    • We store information about people who have been involved in cases at VCAT. This can include names, addresses and phone numbers 
    • If you give information to us for a case we are hearing, the law generally requires it to be given to the other parties in the case (unless it's protected information). 
    • If you want to provide information to us in confidence you must first apply for confidentiality
    • Most VCAT hearings are open to the public, including journalists  
    • People who are not part of the case can apply to see VCAT files 
    • VCAT written decisions for some case types are published on the AustLII website
    • Confidentiality is a priority in guardianship cases. We decide what access to information is given, who to and on what conditions. 

    Learn more about your privacy at VCAT