What Type of Matters Come Through VCAT?
‘VCAT is a very time consuming process for all involved. Be willing to negotiate, be reasonable and listen to the advice from your property manager’
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), is a tribunal that decides administrative cases in a number of areas, including residential tenancies.
Property managers, landlords and tenants interact with VCAT primarily through residential tenancies. Within residential tenancies, a wide range of matters and disputes are decided relating to tenancies in all manner of properties.
These disputes are resolved ultimately through a hearing before a VCAT member, who is like a judge in a courtroom. The decisions that are made in VCAT are legally binding, and VCAT members can order tenants and landlords to pay damages or vacate a rental property.
Marshall White property manager Tania Smith says, ‘Potential VCAT involvement commonly revolves around two situations: rent arrears, or when there is a dispute at the end of a tenancy over damage to the premises.’
These two scenarios won’t always culminate in a VCAT hearing, and Marshall White always strives to mediate between landlord and tenant to avoid this conclusion.
‘For the most part, rent arrears can be resolved if tenants communicate they are unable to meet the agreed payment time promptly and give an estimated time of the rental payment so owners can be kept informed,’ Tania says.
In the scenario of a property damage dispute, this matter would only progress to VCAT if the landlord and tenant were unable to come to a resolution about the cost of repairs from the bond.
However, if the situation escalates to a VCAT appearance, Marshall White property managers will guide both tenants and landlords through the process of a hearing.
Tania recommends that if a matter from a tenancy ends up going to VCAT, that both landlords and tenants be diligent in preparing for the hearing.
‘Think about the questions that the VCAT member might ask, both specifically related to the claim and about painting an overall picture of the situation,’ she says.
‘Take all correspondence, dates and timelines, colour photos, ledgers, lease details, rent amounts, a pen and a calculator to the hearing. Make sure all the information is easy to follow, as once a decision has been made on a specific part of the claim there is not usually an opportunity to go back.’
A VCAT hearing should be considered an absolute last resort. Marshall White property managers are willing to help mediate issues to avoid going to VCAT, and Tania says both parties should aim to come to a conclusion before VCAT becomes necessary.
‘VCAT is a very time consuming process for all involved. Be willing to negotiate, be reasonable and listen to the advice from your property manager.’
If you have any queries regarding property management or leasing, please contact the Marshall White Property Management Team who will be happy to assist. For more information contact us on (03) 9822 8711.