Applications to the Tribunal

Depending on your type of application, the Tribunal decide whether the matter is urgent or not. Many sections of the Act permit you to make application however if there is no reason use s. 452 of the Act.

Take your time completing the application and supply what you can with the application while the remaining information/evidence and “Points of Claim” or your statement can be worked on. 

When the application has been accepted at VCAT, a reference number will be supplied. Any correspondence sent to VCAT must contain the case number and you should also list the Applicant and Respondent. If you applied, you are the applicant and the residential rental provider (other party) will be the respondent.

Complete the application and write the reason for the application including the sections in the Act applicable to your claim. A link has been supplied to help you work out what sections to use and you will need to scroll down to the Renters section of the page. 

VCAT charge a fee when you lodge an application however depending on your financial situation you can have their fees can be fully waived. Please see the link below for further information regarding these fees and your fees are listed under renting a home fees category. 

Also see:

Application for fee relief (VCAT)

Application form (General application and online) - Residential Tenancies List (VCAT)

Common residential tenancy issues and section numbers (VCAT)

Fees (VCAT)

Section 452 General applications to the Tribunal (Legislation)

Renting a home fees (VCAT)

What evidence you will need

Evidence is the piece of paper that proves what you are saying is true. They include the signed residential rental agreement/s, rent payment records, inspection notices and the entry or condition reports with photos. 

If you are the respondent, it is important to provide all of your evidence to the Tribunal in order to prove you are entitled to your bond money. Renters that discover rent money not credited must provide the Tribunal a copy of your bank statement showing the funds leaving your account. We have found that our Rent Reckoner report (created from the ledger supplied by the residential rental provider) reveals where funds have been hidden or dates entered incorrectly however the Tribunal will not correct these discrepancies unless you can prove the payments were made. 

Statutory Declarations are a good idea for anyone that witnessed anything and can verify your version of events. For instance, if your mother witnessed you explaining to the residential rental provider that people turned up and started looking through the windows. The strangers advised the residential rental provider told them they could do so, as there are no upcoming inspections. By completing a statutory declaration, you now have additional evidence backing your version of events. If this is happening to you, follow up any conversations in writing then use the written correspondence and statutory declaration as evidence you addressed the issue of reasonable peace, comfort or privacy with the residential rental provider previously. 

A statutory declaration can confirm you have been looking for work or how you ended up unable to live independently. It can also state that you supplied the break lease paperwork to the residential rental provider and what day the residential rental provider told you they did not receive it.

Stick to the facts and truth, leaving the passion out when making a statutory declaration. No swearing or being derogatory, argumentative or opinionated, just the facts. 

A statutory declaration must not be signed until you meet with a “qualified witness” such as a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Declarations or a lawyer. You will be asked to confirm the details provided are true and correct and at this point, you will be asked to sign the statutory declaration then the witness will sign and stamp the document. Be sure to have any additional documents you are referring to or relying on with the affidavit, so the witness can see them. You can also have copies of any document signed and stamped too as long as you have them with you.

Also see:

After you apply - Residential tenancy cases (VCAT)

Evidence (VCAT) 

Before you apply - Residential tenancies (VCAT) 

Statutory Declaration template (VCAT)

Tips for organising documents for residential tenancy cases (VCAT)

Gathering evidence for the Tribunal application

Conduct your own investigation, gather as much evidence as you can muster. Without evidence, you cannot support what you are saying is true. You see it on all those law and order type shows, Judge Judy is an example of this type of court and she asks for evidence. If you don’t have it, Judge Judy will not rule in favour.

The Tribunal will consider the “balance of probabilities”, so if you have the evidence and can prove what you are saying is true, then an Order will be made in your favour and you will be released from your residential rental agreement. The residential rental provider is obliged to do the same and must not add unnecessary expense or cost to you, just because they have control of the situation. 

Google is the place to find loads of info about the property, start by finding out as much as you can about the property. Once you have run your search on the address, you will see different websites presenting their info. The age of the property might help you present your case for a mutual termination agreement because you can see the property is 15 years old and the walls are the same along with the carpet. Another link will reveal how many times the property has been tenanted and how long the property was advertised before it had tenants. Go through every link presented as one search might reveal the property has been leased while the agent is telling you differently.

Also see:

Can someone represent me? (VCAT)

How to respond to a case (VCAT)

VCAT decisions and orders (VCAT)

Evidence to supply with your application

Everything you provide the Tribunal must be supplied to the residential rental provider. The other party must have a complete copy of your application along with any evidence you attach (this can be black and white to save printing costs.

When supplying this evidence, say to yourself, would I hand this information to the residential rental provider when requesting a break lease? If your answer is no then save it for the day you go to Court. This is also dependent on Covid-19 and the opportunity for a face to face hearing at VCAT. If your hearing is via telephone or internet, you should supply every piece of evidence you are relying on into the application.

The Tribunal requires as much as possible to ensure you can refer to anything and personally, I read the reasons for a decision from the Tribunal stating the renter did not supply sufficient evidence and relied on the residential rental provider’s evidence. This decision to not supply the entry condition report and a copy of the residential rental agreement impacted their hearing. 

If you have lost your job and the move is due to gaining employment elsewhere, the paperwork confirming this should be supplied. Statutory declarations should be used for additional information and the paperwork referred to in the statutory declarations.

The other documents that should be attached to the application are:

  • Residential rental agreement or any written document showing an agreement

  • Notices to remedy breach

  • Signed break lease documents

  • Payment of rent record

  • Condition report/s

  • Exit condition report completed by residential rental provider only

  • Affidavits and Statutory Declarations

  • Copies or quotes or receipts (if applicable)

  • Any document relevant to your claim - emails stating your intentions, requests for assistance, anything that proves you communicated with the residential rental provider

  • Copy of your master file note register (detailing all interaction with residential rental provider)

Also see:

Application for fee relief (VCAT)

Application form (General application and online) - Residential Tenancies List (VCAT)

Fees (VCAT)

Preparing your statement

VCAT require every application to have a statement included explaining the important, relevant events leading up to the application. The document you put together is called “Points of Claim” and you must:

  • number each paragraph
  • list all events in chronological date order
  • number any evidence or appendices
  • list the evidence numbers and appendices beside relevant paragraph
  • prepare a cover page or table of contents

The aim is to complete a thorough document in as little amount of words as possible. The Tribunal conduct many hearing during a day and you must put your matter forward in a quick easy to read document. Use the standard fonts, nothing fancy (arial, calibri), a decent size pitch (11 or 12) and double line spacing 

Evidence to take to the hearing, if it goes ahead!

Telephone or video hookup hearings may occur during COVID-19

Listed below are some suggestions of what you could take to the hearing as additional evidence. Many matters are resolved by negotiating an agreement with the other party (residential rental provider) in the corridors and when neither side agrees, the decision is left to the Tribunal. Evidence is the way to win your matter.

For this reason, do not stress about the extra evidence until you are sure the hearing is going ahead. A few days before the hearing, type a list of what you want to say. Dot points or numbers, something to prompt you. If you are going to refer to anything and produce evidence, have them in a logical order and make a record for yourself so you know what is what. If you are using photographs as evidence, make sure they are in logical order and the images you are referring to should be large enough to see the issue immediately, printing them in colour.

Our Bond dispute package will provide you with a personalised dispute worksheet to record notes, give you something to refer to and hopefully make it easier for you to manage your case with VCAT.

Take the evidence that you did not include in your application and make two copies of it in case you use this evidence and have to tender it to the VCAT. You will need the second copy to hand to the residential rental provider. If evidence is requested and you do not have it, the order may not be made.  You may be asked to supply:

  • Bank statement showing rent withdrawals

  • Pictures from the entry and exit as well as additional images you will be relying on

  • Correspondence between you and the residential rental provider (letters, emails) 

  • File notes if comments are written on them (if applicable)

  • Any document relevant to your claim – emails stating your intentions, requests for assistance, anything that proves you communicated with the residential rental provider

On hearing day

Attend your hearing, in person with a support person, if necessary. Do not expect or assume you can change the hearing at a whim. This is an official law-enforcing jurisdiction and it is no different to attending any other court system.  If you ring and say you cannot attend your hearing due to illness and you require an adjournment for another day, be prepared to supply a medical certificate. 

The residential rental provider may attempt to speak with you before you enter the courtroom, to negotiate a resolution. You can approach the residential rental provider to attempt the same thing, if you feel it is in your best interest. This is seen as a positive, proactive way of resolving the matter before the court’s resources are used to settle the dispute. You do not have to agree with the residential rental provider but you should listen and enter into a negotiation, if you find it acceptable. 

Court etiquette is important when speaking with the Tribunal Member or Magistrate. The Clerk will advise you how to address the court prior to entering the courtroom. Turn your mobile phone off, always stand when addressing the court and never speak unless requested to. Be extremely polite, never interrupt and listen to what is being said. Make notes and try to have some evidence to prove what is being said is accurate or exclude it from the hearing. 

If the residential rental provider did not return signed copies of the condition reports, this is the time to advise the Tribunal. As this is a breach of the Act, their condition reports can be “inadmissible as evidence” therefore they cannot use these reports to prove how this was and that was. For these documents to be legal it must be signed by both you and your residential rental provider within the timeframe listed in the legislation.

The person who made the application is the applicant and they are asked to speak first. If you are the applicant, explain the reason you are there and respectfully request an order to be made to terminate your residential rental agreement. Never demand or expect the court to do what you are requesting and keep all comments respectful without getting into a verbal dispute with the residential rental provider. Best of luck!

Also see:

On hearing day (VCAT)

Settle before a hearing (VCAT)

Aussie Renters have published this document offering free assistance to the public, in an attempt to help with your tenancy matters.

This document provides information about your legal rights and obligations as a renter however we are not providing legal advice or opinions. The government and non-government organisation links are provided to assist with more complex tenancy matters and we urge you to contact these free organisations for assistance.

Aussie Renters make no representation as to accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.  We make every effort to ensure all information supplied on our website is accurate and up to date by regularly checking our content.

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