Sometimes things go wrong between tenants and landlords. When that happens, there are a few things you can do to sort things out.
1. Try to Talk it Over
If you're having problems with or concerns about your landlord or property manager, the first thing you should do is contact them to discuss things. Don't rely on verbal agreements, though.
2. Put it in Writing
If you're happy with how your discussion went, follow it up with a letter or email that summarises the situation and outlines the agreement you came to.
If you're unhappy with how your discussion went, follow it up with a letter or email that summarises the situation and explains what you want your landlord to do.
Make sure you keep a copy of all your letters and emails, so you can use them as evidence if you need to. Hang onto any photo evidence you might have, too. In many cases, the more evidence that you collect, the better your chances are of finding a solution.
3. Make an Official Complaint
If you're unable to resolve the problem yourself, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) runs a complaint service that offers support to tenants.
You can download an official complaint form or send in a request for more information about getting help. You can also call CAV to discuss your situation on 1300 558 181.
Remember that it's important to have proof that you approached your real estate agent about the problem before you use this service.
4. Take it to the Tribunal
If the problem can't be resolved through either personal negotiations or help from CAV, you can apply to have your dispute ruled on by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The VCAT site's Residential Tenancies page has heaps of information about how to lodge an application, how much it costs, and what happens at a hearing.
Notice to Vacate/Eviction
A "notice to vacate" is a letter from your landlord or property manager asking you to stop renting their property either immediately or within a set period of time. There are a number of reasons that you might receive a notice to vacate, including (but not limited to):
- Rent being 14 days late (or later)
- Deliberate damage to the property
- Bringing in new tenants without permission
If you receive a notice to vacate, you are allowed to challenge it. Note that it is illegal for a landlord to force you to leave their property - only the police can make you leave, and only after a series of legal steps have been taken.
Tenants Union of Victoria
For residential tenants living in Victoria who require information on their legal rights.
This free app has heaps of advice for renters, including email templates for requests like repairs to the property that can help smooth communication between renters and landlords/property managers.
Consumer Affairs Victoria - Renting
Advice on dealing with disagreements between landlords, agents and tenants.
Renting a Home: A Guide for Tenants (PDF)
This Consumer Affairs Victoria handbook explains landlord, tenant and agent rights and responsibilities under Victorian residential tenancy law.
VCAT: Residential Tenancies
Information about what kind of residential disputes VCAT can rule on, and how to apply for them to hear your case.