"I’m afraid of getting evicted"
If your rent is more than 14 days overdue, your landlord can apply to VCAT to evict you. Jo negotiated a payment plan to stay in her home.
Jo is a proud Koori woman who lives with her two kids in a rented home. She works casual shifts when they’re at school. Sometimes it’s hard to make ends meet.
The last few months have been really tough. Her mum’s been sick. Jo’s been looking after her at home, so she’s had to work less. She can’t pay her rent on time.
Jo’s worried. She hasn’t talked to her landlord about what’s going on. She hopes to make up the payments soon.
Can’t pay your rent?
A letter from VCAT
Jo receives a Notice to vacate from her landlord asking her to move out in three weeks because she’s behind on rent. Jo’s scared she has to leave.
A few days later Jo gets a text from VCAT with a hearing date. She also gets a notice in the mail.
Jo’s landlord is taking her to VCAT to get her to move out. She feels overwhelmed and ashamed. She’s terrified because she thinks it’s like going to court.
Jo also realises that she can’t come to the hearing. She needs to take mum to a doctor.
You don’t have to move out
You can stay in your home until your hearing. At VCAT, we help resolve disputes and find a fair solution. You can have your say.
Deciding to come
Jo doesn’t think VCAT will listen to her side of the story. She’s also anxious about speaking for herself.
Jo’s cousin Eddie convinces her to get help and argue her case. Eddie was in a similar situation a few years ago. He ignored the letter and ended up losing his home.
They look up the VCAT website together and find the number for the Koori Helpline.
The Koori Support Officer explains what the notice means. If Jo comes to her hearing, she can try and work out a solution to stay in her home.
Jo can also ask a lawyer from the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service to speak for her on the day.
The Koori Support Officer helps Jo:
- ask for another hearing date, so she can come
- book a Koori hearing room, so she can feel more comfortable
- find information on the VCAT website to help her prepare.
They also agree that the Koori Support Officer will come with her so she’s not alone on the day.
Options to attend
It’s free to come to your hearing. We can help you attend in person, by phone or videoconference.
Prepare for your hearing
Watch a video to find out what happens at a hearing.
Having a say
On the day of her hearing, Jo has a lawyer from Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service speak for her.
She’s nervous, but relieved that a Koori Support Officer’s with her and that she’s in a Koori hearing room.
During the hearing, everyone gets a chance to speak and the lawyer explains Jo’s situation. The member helps Jo work out how much extra she can pay each week, to pay back what she owes.
Jo and the landlord agree to a payment plan. If she makes the payments, she can stay in her home. If she doesn’t, the landlord can contact VCAT and come back for another hearing.
The payment plan is in the order Jo and the landlord receive.
Keeping your home
Jo feels relieved that she wasn’t evicted. She’s glad she came. She could tell her side of the story. She felt heard. It didn’t feel like she was at a criminal court.
She could also prepare better and knew what to expect on the day, because she got support early on.
What’s a member?
A person who hears and decides cases at VCAT. Some members are specialists in particular areas of law.
What’s an order?
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 they must take. All parties follow VCAT's orders.
'I've come a long way to really stand up and speak for myself.'
Jo understands the order and what she agreed to. She feels confident about the payment plan and what she needs to do next.
She saves the Koori Helpline number so she can call if she has questions later.
Get help and advice
If you’re renting your home, you have rights that protect you.
If you’re not sure about your rights or situation, these organisations may be able to help you.
Consumer Affairs Victoria
Information and advice on your renting rights. Call 1300 55 81 81 and select the Koori option.
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
Legal advice for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. Call 1800 064 865.
Information and advice on your renting rights. Call 1800 064 865.
Help and support
What can I do if I’m facing eviction?
If you’ve been sent a copy of an application for termination of your rental agreement by your landlord, and you’re worried about eviction, the first thing to do is to speak to them.
You may be able to come to an agreement without coming to VCAT. For example, work out a payment plan.
If you get a notice or message from us telling you to come to VCAT, this means the landlord is asking us to make a decision about the situation. Don’t ignore this notice - it’s important you come to VCAT to have your say. You may even be able to reach an agreement on the day.
If you are a tenant who is being taken to VCAT due to unpaid rent, use the financial circumstances statement to give us details about your financial situation.
What can I do if I’m affected by family violence?
If you’re affected by family or personal violence and the situation is urgent, call triple zero (000).
VCAT has a family violence support worker to help you at VCAT. Our support worker can:
- help you understand the VCAT process
- help you fill out the application
- connect you to other services for ongoing support
- support you during the VCAT hearing and help you attend the hearing remotely so you can avoid contact with the other person.
Contact our family violence support worker during business hours on 03 9628 9856.
What happens if I can’t come to VCAT?
If you can’t come to VCAT in person or on the scheduled date for a serious reason (for example, you have a disability, are away or unwell) you have a few options. You can:
- ask to attend by phone VCAT decides if this is fair to all parties.
- apply to change the date (adjourn) two business days before you’re due to come. For a final hearing, you must do this at least five business days before.
- ask for permission to give someone the authority to come in your place. This is different from having a legal or professional representative.
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.
Signed:______________ Name:______________ Position:______________
What happens if I miss my hearing?
What happens if you miss the hearing depends on if you’re the applicant or the respondent.
- If you’re the applicant and you don’t come to the hearing, the hearing can’t go ahead and your application may be dismissed or struck out
- If you’re a respondent and you don’t come, VCAT may make a decision that affects you and can be enforced by a court. For example, the member could make an order for costs against you.
If you have a good enough reason for not coming, and you didn’t have someone come for you, you may be able to apply for a review and rehearing (called ‘reopening an order’).
You need to make this application within 14 days of finding out about the order. There’s no guarantee that VCAT will agree.
What support is there for people with disability?
Most of our hearing locations are accessible. Contact us for accessibility information about a venue.
We can also organise support for people with disability at VCAT.
- We can arrange an assistive listening device or hearing loop for your hearing, compulsory conference or mediation. Contact us so we can have these facilities ready for you.
- You can also ask to attend VCAT by telephone.
Our disability liaison officers can support you to access our services and venues.
Ask for a disability liaison officer to help:
● Email us at email@example.com
● Call us on 1300 01 8228.