5 steps to prepare for defending your bond at VCAT

By Anika Legal | Thu 17th March '22

Is your rental provider trying to claim your bond? If you want to get your bond back, understanding how to defend against your rental provider’s bond claim at VCAT can make a big difference.

Below we've listed five important steps to follow so that you can be as prepared as possible. But first things first - some general information about VCAT:

What is VCAT?

VCAT is similar to a court, but you don’t need a lawyer. Instead you can represent yourself, and it helps to know how best to do this! If you’ve never represented yourself at VCAT, don’t worry - this is pretty common when it comes to VCAT hearings, and we’ll walk you through the steps.

What does VCAT do?

The purpose of VCAT is to resolve disputes between parties. If your matter is taken to VCAT, they will listen to the evidence from you and your rental provider and then make a decision on what the RTBA should do with your bond.

How do I know if my rental provider has applied to VCAT?

If your rental provider wants to claim your bond, they must apply to VCAT within 14 days after the end of your rental agreement.

You can find out whether your rental provider has applied to VCAT within their time limit by submitting a claim for your bond to the RTBA. If the matter is already at VCAT, the RTBA will let you know. For more information about applying for your bond to the RTBA, click here.

Okay, so I know my matter is at VCAT – now what? Follow our five steps listed below!

1. Make sure that you know what your landlord's claim is about

It is important to know what your landlord’s claim at VCAT will be about so that you can best prepare yourself for the hearing.

The landlord can only ask to keep your bond for a number of reasons, including:

  • Repairing damage you caused to the property
  • Unpaid rent or other unpaid charges
  • You didn’t leave the property in a ‘reasonably clean’ condition
  • Reverting changes you made to the property without the landlords’ permission

You can find out what your case is about by looking at your landlord’s application to VCAT. The VCAT application will outline what orders your landlord wishes VCAT to make and will have specific details about the claim.

If you do not have a copy of the application, you can write to VCAT or call them and ask for a copy to be sent to you.

2. Make sure VCAT has the correct contact details for you

If your contact details have changed since your landlord has submitted the application, or if your information on the application is wrong it is important that you tell VCAT and the other party about this. You can do this by phone or email.

3. Consider whether to try and negotiate with your landlord

Even if your landlord has already submitted an application to VCAT against you, you can still try to negotiate with your landlord up until the point where a decision has been reached by VCAT.

There are many benefits to negotiating instead of going to VCAT. These include:

  • A favourable outcome for both parties
  • Quicker resolution
  • Less stress for both parties

Try to reach a decision in writing so that there is proof of this agreement. If you do reach a decision that both you and your landlord are happy with, you and your landlord must let VCAT know as soon as possible.

Unsure of where to start? Our Bond Recovery Service can help you negotiate with your landlord. Contact us today to get started.

4. Wait for VCAT to list your hearing

If you decided negotiation wasn’t for you or if you weren’t able to resolve the issue with your landlord through negotiation, the next step is waiting for VCAT to list your hearing.

As soon as VCAT has listed your hearing, you will receive a ‘notice of hearing’ which outlines the time, date and location, so you can properly prepare for your VCAT hearing.

Unsure of where to start? Our Bond Recovery Service can help you prepare for your hearing. Contact us today to get started.

5. VCAT has listed my matter – how do I prepare?

After you have received your notice of hearing, you must email all of the ‘evidence’ you want to use to defend your bond to VCAT. This should be done at least three business days before your hearing.

We know that preparing for your VCAT hearing can be stressful, so to make sure you are as prepared as possible, here are some key pieces of evidence that you can bring to help dispute your landlord's claim.

  • Photographs – photos can be super important in terms of evidence for a VCAT hearing. If possible, make sure these photos are ‘time stamped’ (meaning they have the time and date on the photo).
  • Condition report – the condition report is a key piece of evidence that you can provide to VCAT. This shows the condition of the property at the start of your lease. The photos in a condition report can help you to show that any damage the rental provider may be claiming you have caused might have been there before you moved in.
  • Receipts – you can also provide receipts from cleaners that you have hired or have arranged to hire. If you haven’t hired a professional cleaner, that’s okay too! You can provide evidence that you have cleaned the property to a ‘reasonable’ standard such as photos of the property when you vacated to show that you cleaned the property upon vacating.

We hope this information has been helpful. If you're not sure what your next step is, contact us today and we'll help you get started.

We last updated this page in March 2022. Please remember that this is only legal information. If you're thinking about taking action, you should chat to a lawyer for advice about your situation first.

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