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Residential Tenancies in Victoria

Updated on Dec 06, 2023 4 min read 723 views Copy Link

Michelle Makela

Published in May 29, 2015 Updated on Dec 06, 2023 4 min read 723 views

Residential Tenancies in Victoria

A residential tenancy exists when a rental provider and a tenant make an agreement for the tenant to lease premises in which they will reside. This page deals with residential tenancies in Victoria.

Legislation

There are numerous pieces of legislation that affect residential tenancies in Victoria. The most important are the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1998 which contain the majority of rights and duties of rental providers and tenants.  

Consumer Affairs Victoria provides information for both tenants and lessors regarding the process of renting at the beginning, during or at the end of a lease or residency.

Rights and obligations of landlords and tenants

Many tenants are not aware of their rights when renting a residential property. These are set out in Division 5 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

Tenants’ obligations include:

  • refraining from using the premises for any illegal purpose
  • paying rent on time
  • avoiding damage to the property and giving notice of any damage to the premises to the landlord.  

The landlord’s obligations include:

  • allowing the tenant quiet enjoyment of the premises
  • maintaining the premises

Types of residential tenancy disputes

Common residential tenancy disputes include disputes regarding the refund of bond, the payment of rent, repairs of the rental property, service charges including water and electricity and termination of the tenancy.

It is also common for either a landlord or a tenant to claim that the other party has breached its obligations under Division 5 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.  An example is where a tenant claims the rental provider has breached its obligation to give the tenant quiet enjoyment of the premises by accessing the premises without giving the requisite notice.

Resolving residential tenancy dispute arises

As with most types of disputes, parties should attempt to settle residential tenancy disputes by negotiating with the other party. Settling a matter without resorting to the court or tribunal system is quicker and cheaper and may preserve relationships between parties. 

Consumer Affairs Victoria offers a specialist conciliation service that can be used for some residential accommodation issues. This service will try to facilitate a resolution between the parties by providing an impartial and informal service that helps the parties to identify the issues and explore options for a resolution.

If conciliation cannot settle the dispute, the matter may be taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Consumer Affairs Victoria can also issue infringement notices against parties who breach certain provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. The party receiving the infringement notice can pay the fine without admitting guilt, and the matter will then finalise rather than proceeding to court. This is beneficial for the infringing party as the fines are less than the maximum penalties that courts can impose.

VCAT tenancy disputes

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hears disputes between tenants and rental providers, rooming house owners and rooming house renters, Director of Housing and public housing tenants, and caravan park owners and caravan park residents.

VCAT does not hear neighbourhood disputes or disputes between tenants (tenant vs tenant).  

VCAT has a jurisdictional limit of $25,000. Matters involving larger amounts of money must be dealt with by the courts.

Commencing proceedings at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

If you wish for VCAT to hear your residential tenancy dispute, you must file a residential tenancy application. This form must be accompanied by all the evidence and information you intend to use in the hearing. The application must be accompanied by an application fee.

The applicant may either lodge the application at VCAT and serve a copy on the respondent (the opposing party) within seven days, or serve it on the respondent first and then lodge it at VCAT within seven days.

Respondents may defend themselves at the VCAT hearing, and/or file a counterclaim.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Published in

May 29, 2015

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 
Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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