VCAT to clear residential tenancy backlog by end of 2024

10 October 2023

VCAT's capacity to hear cases has been heavily impacted over the years by challenges in the rental market, COVID-19 pandemic and new rental laws. This was most felt within the tribunal's busiest area, the Residential Tenancies Division, which accounts for about two-thirds of VCAT's total caseload.

In 2021, we established the VCAT Backlog Recovery Program (VBRP) to address the growing number of cases the tribunal needed to hear. The program helped deliver faster and more efficient dispute resolution through earlier application audits, enhanced case management and mediation services in partnership with the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

Along with other initiatives implemented alongside the VBRP, we stabilised the rate of open cases in the Residential Tenancies Division. 

This has given the program the opportunity to update its strategy. The VBRP now seeks to eliminate the Residential Tenancies List backlog by the end of 2024, which largely consists of disputes involving bond, compensation or pet issues lodged before 1 October 2023.

The VBRP team has grown and now includes dedicated member and registry resources to prioritise the resolution of these cases.

With the increased capacity, VCAT will schedule more hearings in person, via teleconference and ‘on the papers’. A hearing on the papers is a process where a VCAT member makes a decision on a case based on documents lodged by parties, without requiring their attendance. 

To manage cases efficiently, VCAT may consolidate those from the same applicant and hear them all on the same day. This means we may schedule as many hearings in one day for bond, compensation or pet disputes managed by the same real estate agent. 

To make it more convenient for parties, we aim to hold as many hearings as close as possible to the rental properties involved in these disputes. VCAT has locations in Melbourne, Bendigo, Bundoora, Frankston and Oakleigh. 

Any new applications received from 1 October about bond, compensation and pet issues will be case managed as soon as possible along with all other applications VCAT receives. They will not be added to the backlog queue.

For more information, see: Residential tenancy applications involving bond, compensation or pets.