How long a VCAT case takes

The duration of a case and wait times to get to a hearing depend on the type of case.

How long does it take for a tribunal hearing?

We have put in place a range of measures to reduce our current backlogs and the time it takes to have a hearing. We are gradually reducing the number of cases that have been on hold, and will contact you as soon as it’s possible to take the next steps in your case.

You can find below an estimate of how long it takes to get to a hearing after submitting your application, and whether we are experiencing any delays. It may take more or less time. Some cases may be scheduled more quickly for a hearing because they are considered urgent.

Estimated timeframes

  • We prioritise cases that the renting laws say must be heard within a certain time, and those we consider urgent. For example, urgent repairs are heard within 2 business days, and applications involving personal or family violence are heard within 3 business days.

    It takes about 7 business days to hear cases about non-urgent repairs.

    Applications for possession due to danger, damage, or disruption are scheduled for hearing as soon as possible within 3-4 weeks. Possession applications due to unpaid rent are heard in about 4 weeks, and most other applications for possession are heard within 8 weeks.

    We currently have a large backlog of bond and compensation cases. Some of these cases have been waiting for several months or more. We understand the impact of these delays on our users and are working hard to reduce the backlog. To help you resolve your dispute faster, we may invite you to a mediation facilitated by the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

  • About 8 weeks after we receive an application in the Civil Claims List, we send a VCAT order that sets a timetable for when you need to send us supporting documents about your case. It takes about 9-12 weeks for all the steps to be completed. This helps parties prepare for their case and ensure everyone is ready before we schedule a hearing. At the end of the timetable, we will decide whether your case will be listed for a hearing, a mediation, or a fast-track mediation and hearing.

    Different timeframes apply depending on the type of mediation or hearing your case needs. In general, expect to wait between 30-58 weeks from the time you apply to the date of your mediation or hearing.

  • It usually takes 4 weeks from submitting the application to a hearing.

    If you apply for an urgent order after contacting the Office of the Public Advocate on 1300 309 337, we'll review the order at a hearing as soon as possible.

    • Mediation17 weeks
    • Compulsory conference37 weeks
    • Directions hearing22 weeks
    • Small claim dispute – 42 weeks
    • 2-day to 4-day hearing – 48 weeks 
    • 5-day or more hearing – subject to a VCAT call-over, you will receive a VCAT notice if this applies to you

    We understand the impact of these delays to you and are working hard to reduce the backlog. As soon as a case opens, we make directions to get it moving. This means you won't have to wait for a directions hearing, but you can still apply for one if you think it's necessary.

  • Approximately 12-14 weeks to a mediation, compulsory conference, directions hearing or hearing.

    • For cases that are not heard as major or short cases, we estimate 27 weeks to a hearing from the time we receive your application.
    • Fast track cases take about nine weeks after we receive your application, or 12 weeks if a practice day or preliminary hearing is also required.
    • If your case is eligible for the major cases list, we estimate 16-22 weeks to a hearing.
    • If your case is eligible for the short cases list, we estimate 12 weeks to a hearing.

    If you are asked to come to a practice day hearing, preliminary hearing, or compulsory conference, this will be sooner.

    Check the order we sent you for when you should come to VCAT.

How long does the entire VCAT process take?

The entire VCAT process, from lodging an application to receiving a decision, can take several months, but the exact timeframe will depend on the specifics of the case.

The following timeframes to finalise a case are estimates only, and can be sooner or later depending on current backlogs and the complexity:

  • Residential tenancies – about five weeks
  • Guardianship – about four weeks
  • Goods and services – about 37 weeks
  • Building and construction – about 44 weeks
  • Owners corporation – about 13 weeks
  • Planning and environment – about 26 weeks
  • Retail and commercial leases – about 44 weeks
  • Legal practice – about 29 weeks
  • Human rights (cases about equal opportunity, privacy and health records and mental health) – about 25 weeks
  • Review and regulation – 35 weeks

We update typical case timeframes every month.