Retail and Commercial Leases

VCAT hears and decides cases about retail tenancies and commercial leasing disputes. The steps you must take to apply vary depending on the type of application you are making.

If your matter concerns an application to prevent another party from doing something or compelling another party to do something and it is urgent you can apply for an injunction. Typical examples of an injunction application are to prevent a landlord from taking possession of leased premises or if you are a landlord, regaining possession of retail premises. Complete the relevant section in the application form if you wish to apply for an injunction. Read more about injunctions.

Application for damages or relief

If your dispute concerns a retail tenancy and you are seeking an order that the other party pay you damages or you are seeking some other form of relief - other than an order in the form of an injunction - you must attach a certificate issued by the Small Business Commissioner under section 87 of the Retail Leases Act 2003 to your application before VCAT is able to hear your case. The certificate confirms that mediation or another appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution has failed or is unlikely to resolve the dispute.

Check if you need a certificate issued by the Small Business Commissioner

You do not need a certificate issued by the Small Business Commissioner if any of the following apply:

  • your claim relates solely to the recovery of outstanding rent
  • you are seeking an injunction
  • the dispute relates to a commercial tenancy, rather than a retail tenancy.

Before you apply

Before applying to VCAT, you must find out whether you need to attach a certificate issued by the Small Business Commissioner to your application. You can also contact the Victorian Small Business Commissioner (VSBC), who can help you understand your rights and obligations under the Retail Leases Act 2003. They also provide information and assistance to resolve disputes.

When making an application to VCAT, provide the following supporting documents:

  • If you are seeking damages or relief you must attach a certificate issued by the Small Business Commissioner under section 87 of the Retail Leases Act 2003. The certificate confirms that mediation or another appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution has failed or is unlikely to resolve the dispute. We cannot process your application if you do not attach the certificate.
  • If you are seeking an injunction you must attach a copy of the lease (if available).

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. If you wish to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission. If you are represented by a legal or other professional representative, we will only communicate with them.

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

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear all types of disputes concerning retail and commercial tenancies. These disputes include:

  • injunction applications
  • relief from forfeiture of lease applications
  • recovery of rent and outgoings in arrears
  • rent review disputes
  • whether options to renew have been exercised
  • recovery of key money
  • damages to leased premises
  • compensation for interference or disruption to trading.
  • Before applying to VCAT, you must find out whether you need to attach a certificate issued by the Small Business Commissioner to your application. You can also contact the Victorian Small Business Commissioner (VSBC). The VSBC can help you understand your rights and obligations under the Retail Leases Act 2003. They also provide information and assistance to resolve disputes. Read more about what to do before you apply

  • Complete the application form and provide supporting documents specified in the form.

    If you are seeking damages or relief you must:

    • attach a certificate issued by the Small Business Commissioner under section 87 of the Retail Leases Act 2003. The certificate confirms that mediation or another appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution has failed or is unlikely to resolve the dispute. We cannot process your application if you do not attach the certificate.
    • give VCAT a copy of the application and supporting documents for each respondent as well as for VCAT. We then arrange for a copy to be served on each respondent.

    If you are seeking an injunction you must attach:

    • an affidavit or statutory declaration in support of your injunction application, setting out what orders you want VCAT to make the grounds upon which you rely, including details of the urgency of the matter and what loss you may suffer if the injunction is not granted.
    • a copy of the lease (if available).

    Read more about applying to VCAT

  • If you apply for an injunction, we send you a notice of hearing, a statement of service and a copy of your application and affidavit for your own records. You need to serve a copy of the application and affidavit on the respondent. This is the legally correct way of saying you need to send a copy of the affidavit to them. After you have sent copies to them, tell us you have done so by filing the statement of service with us. Read more about applying for an injunction.

    If you apply for damages or some other form of relief we assess your application and decide whether the matter should be referred to mediation, a directions hearing or directly to a final hearing. In some cases, VCAT may make an order requiring you to provide more information regarding your claim. In any event, we send a notice to all parties with information about what happens next. The notice sets out the date, time and place of the mediation, directions hearing or hearing. 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.

  • The VCAT member decides the case based on evidence and submissions. As soon as we provide a hearing date, start preparing for the hearing. You should bring all documents to support your case, with an additional copy to be provided to the member and the other parties. Read more about how to prepare for your final hearing.

  • 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. Sometimes the member may want to visit the site of the building works. 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 to expect on 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

You do not have to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT.  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 contact us or the other people involved in the case.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public. We have limited authority to restrict access to information except in certain circumstances. 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 assist you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.

Legislation that applies to this type of case

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998

Retail Leases Act 2003

Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012