Application by a tenant or landlord
If you are a tenant or a landlord with a renting dispute 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 and tenants, or disputes between neighbours.
Before you apply
Find out the relevant Section Number of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 that applies to your claim type. You will need to quote it in the claim details of your application. You may also have to provide documents to support your claim. To find out more read What section numbers in the Residential Tenancies Act mean.
Time limits apply for some cases, so you should apply to VCAT as soon as possible. Find out about time limits.
How to apply
There are three ways that you can apply to VCAT to hear a dispute between a tenant and landlord. You should check whether you need to pay an application fee.
We recommend applying through the Residential Tenancies Hub. The hub lets you pay your application fee online, gives you a VCAT reference number, get your hearing date immediately (in most cases), see all applications you have made through the hub, and withdraw your application if you resolve your renting dispute before a hearing.
If you are an estate agent or from a community housing group, you will need to provide us with some information to register for the Residential Tenancies Hub.
When applying through the hub, you will need to send VCAT any supporting documents separately by email, in person or by post.
Using this online form lets you pay application fee online and upload any supporting documents. You can choose to create an account to see all your previous applications.
You can choose to print a form and send it to us by post. Application fee payments will need to be made by post or in person.
Need help with your application?
VCAT cannot give you legal advice. Seek legal help if you are unsure about your legal options. The following services may be able to help you:
Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?
You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT.
For renting cases, 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.
When your dispute is about regaining possession of a rental property, you do not need permission from VCAT to be legally represented.
Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.
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
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, you will go into a hearing room. Make sure you are ready to present your case. Usually the applicant gives evidence first. Then the respondent gives their evidence. Read more about what to expect on hearing day.
In the Residential Tenancies List the VCAT member usually gives a decision to the parties verbally at the end of the hearing. They explain the reasons for the decision and you are given a copy of the decision after the hearing. 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 them to be provided in writing. Read more about what to expect after the hearing.