"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.

Overdue rent

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?

You may be able to work out a payment plan without coming to VCAT. Speak directly to your landlord, or get help from a support service.


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.

Get in touch

Call or text our Koori Helpline on 0417 516 335, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Or email koori.support@vcat.vic.gov.au.

Getting support

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:

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.

Download transcript

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.

'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.

Don't understand the order?

Ask the member to explain it to you in the hearing. Or call the Koori Helpline on 0417 516 335.

Get help and advice

If you’re renting your home, you have rights that protect you. For example, the landlord must follow certain steps before they can evict 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.

Tenants Victoria

Information and advice on your renting rights. Call 1800 064 865.

Help and support

  • If you’ve been sent a copy of a notice to vacate or a copy of an application for possession by your rental provider (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’re behind on rent.

    If you get a notice or message from us telling you to come to VCAT, this means the rental provider 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 renter (tenant) who is being taken to VCAT due to unpaid rent and you want a payment plan, use the financial circumstances statement to give us details about your financial situation.

    More about what to do to respond to a notice from us

  • 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.

    Read more about family violence support at 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: 

    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.

    Date xx/xx/xx

    Signed:______________ Name:______________ Position:______________

  • 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 reasonable 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. We may not agree to your request if you do not have a good reason for not attending.

    Apply for a review and rehearing

  • 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:

    Find out more about disability services at VCAT