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 Definition A person or organisation directly involved in a VCAT case, including a person or organisation that has brought the case before VCAT or who is defending claims made against them. from doing something or compelling another party to do something and it is urgent you can apply for an injunction Definition An order that stops a party from doing something, or makes a party do something. . 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 Definition The agreement between a landlord and a tenant for the rental of a property. 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 Definition Mediations are confidential meetings where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator. 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.

Time limits

If your claim is under the Retail Leases Act 2003 and/or the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 then generally you must apply within 6 years of the date on which the dispute arose.

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).

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 lawyer, we will only communicate with them

Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

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:

Cases VCAT can hear

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

  • injunction Definition An order that stops a party from doing something, or makes a party do something. 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.

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