Application by a tenant or landlord

If you are a tenant who has a dispute with a private landlord, or a landlord who has a dispute with a tenant, you may be able to apply to VCAT to hear your case.

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear disputes between tenants and landlords.

Cases VCAT cannot hear

VCAT cannot hear disputes between tenants, disputes between landlords, disputes between landlords and estate agents, or disputes between neighbours.

  • Before applying to VCAT try to resolve the dispute between yourselves.

  • Apply online using the Residential Tenancies Hub. If you cannot use the Residential Tenancies Hub, you can apply with our PDF application form. You must send the completed application form to us and then within seven days, send it to the other parties. If you send it to the other parties first, send it to VCAT within seven days. Read more about applying to VCAT.

  • When VCAT processes your application form we will give 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.

    We will send you a notice of hearing. The notice of hearing tells you what to do next. Generally cases heard under the Residential Tenancies List are short and often go straight to a hearing. Read more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • We encourage you to negotiate with the other party to reach a resolution. At VCAT we often use mediation or compulsory conferences as a way to resolve disputes before going to a hearing. However, as most cases in the Residential Tenancies List are short, and involve amounts less than $1000, we rarely schedule compulsory conferences. Read more about resolving a case by agreement.

  • The VCAT member decides the case based on the evidence given at the hearing. If you are an applicant you need to prove what you are claiming. In the same way, if you are a respondent you need to back up your defence with evidence. The best evidence is what you and your witnesses give verbally, supported by original documents. Read more about how to prepare for a 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 make sure you are ready to present your case. Usually the applicant and the applicant's witnesses give evidence first. Then the respondent and the respondent's witnesses give their evidence. Read more about what to expect on hearing day.

  • In the Residential Tenancies List the VCAT member generally gives a decision to the parties verbally. If you want reasons to be provided in writing you should make your request at the beginning of the hearing. If you wait until the end of hearing it may be too late to ask for the decision to be provided in writing. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.

Professional representation

You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT.

For cases heard under the Residential Tenancies List, most landlords are represented by an estate agent. If you are a tenant and your landlord is represented by their real estate agent, you are automatically entitled to professional representation.

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. For more about applying for confidentiality.

Legislation that applies to this type of case

Residential Tenancies Act 1997

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998