victorian rent help

VCAT & CAV explained for Victorian renters

Nico Lim

If you’re a renter living in Victoria, you’ve probably heard of VCAT – they’re the folk who resolve disputes under the Residential Tenancies Act between landlords and tenants.  

At Anika, we strive to provide all our clients with personalised, online legal support that is 100% free. Whether it’s getting repairs done or negotiating a rent reduction with your landlord, most of our cases result in a successful outcome – however, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. And that’s where VCAT comes in. 

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is a tribunal (less formal than a court) that resolves legal disputes and cases in Victoria. VCAT often works in conjunction with CAV (Consumer Affairs Victoria) who is an authority on tenancy disputes but do not actually have the power that VCAT has to make decisions and rulings.

What is the difference between VCAT and CAV (Consumer Affairs Victoria)?

CAV are the government body who give general and trusted advice to tenants without being in a position to 'intervene' or make ruling decisions.

CAV provides mediation between landlords and tenants to help them achieve an agreement. CAV’s mediator may make suggestions but will never force the parties into an outcome. VCAT is the organisation that provides a binding decision based on legislative criteria after considering the circumstances of both landlord and tenant. 

CAV for repairs and COVID-19 rent reductions

Generally, people go to CAV to get an 'inspection' of the repairs they need carried out. CAV then decides if a repair is urgent/non-urgent/non-existent. From there they will provide an official report which can be used as very compelling evidence for VCAT (who ultimately have the power to make more binding orders).

If you are looking for a rent reduction, the main factor that determines whether you are eligible is whether you have experienced ‘severe hardship’. This is something CAV can help you determine.

It is worth mentioning that CAV often outsources some of their mediation to the Dispute Settlement Centre and there is often a delay in getting matters before both CAV and VCAT so patience is key!

VCAT for renters & tenants 

The VCAT Residential Tenancies Division deals with matters involving:

  • Renters (tenants) and residential rental providers (landlords)
  • Rooming house operators and residents
  • The Director of Housing and public housing tenants
  • Caravan park owners and residents
  • Site tenants and site owners. 

An overview of what VCAT can and can’t help with:

VCAT can help with: 

What VCAT can't help with:

What to expect when you contact VCAT:

  • Answers to your queries about whether VCAT can assist with your case or dispute
  • Information about VCAT processes
  • Guidance about appropriate forms, fees, and sources of further information
  • Assistance with application forms
  • Referral to appropriate contacts for other agencies relevant to your inquiry. 

More useful resources

How VCAT’s process works

How to prepare for VCAT

How to communicate with VCAT and other parties

Consumer Affairs Victoria:
Victoria’s consumer regulator that ensures a fair market place for landlords, tenants, businesses, and consumers in general.

Other helpful organisations

VCAT and COVID-19 changes

VCAT Contact and locations

Anika is a free online legal service for Victorian renters. If you or someone you know could use assistance with repairs or a rent reduction, we want to help.  

In need of more tenants information? Explore our blog for more articles.

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