Homelessness

Homelessness

If you don’t have anywhere to live there are organisations that can help you find accommodation. You can apply for emergency accommodation and public housing.

There are other services that can help you with legal matters, financial hardship and family violence.

Housing

Emergency accommodation

If you need emergency accommodation you can call 1800 825 955 to speak with a housing and support worker. The service is available 24 hours a day.

You can also contact your nearest crisis support centre for assistance.

If you have a problem with a government-funded homelessness support and accommodation service such as crisis accommodation, the Homelessness Advocacy Service can help you. They can give you information about your rights and help you to make a complaint about any of these services in Victoria.

Public housing

Public housing is rental accommodation for people whose circumstances mean they can’t afford to pay ‘market rates’ of rent. If you’re homeless you can apply to the Department of Human Services for ‘early housing’, which means that you won’t have to wait as long as other people.

Squatting in a vacant property

Living in a vacant house or building without the owner's permission and without paying any form of rent is called ‘squatting’. Squatting is not against the law, but the police can charge you for being in a building or on land without the owner’s permission (trespassing).

The property owner can evict you and may take civil action against you for compensation. The owner may call the police to have you evicted immediately. In some cases, you may be able to stay on for 24 or 48 hours, to give you time to find somewhere else to stay.

If the property owner wants to evict you and you refuse to go, they can apply to the Supreme Court to get an order forcing you to leave.

Most property owners will evict squatters immediately. However, some squatters are able to reach an agreement with the owner to stay on as a tenant by explaining their financial situation and offering to pay what rent they can afford and/or ensuring that the property is looked after.

If you have occupied a property as a squatter for 15 years you are entitled to have your name entered on the land title, unless the land is owned by the government. This means that legally you own the land. You need to be able to prove your period of possession.

Legal services

How we can help

Call us for free information over the phone about the law and how we can help you with your legal problem.

Phone 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 5.15 pm.

If you need an interpreter let us know.

Our other free legal services include:

For some matters we can provide you with a lawyer to help you run your case.

Justice Connect

Justice Connect's Homeless Law program provides free legal information and advice to, and acts on behalf of, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This includes people in transitional, emergency or social housing.

The clinic can assist with:

  • housing and tenancy matters
  • fines and infringement notices connected to homelessness
  • guardianship and administration orders
  • credit and debt problems
  • Centrelink matters
  • human rights advocacy.

The clinic cannot assist with family or criminal law matters.

Youthlaw

Youthlaw provides free and confidential legal information and advice to young people up to the age of 25.

Tenants Union of Victoria

If you are at risk of becoming homeless, contact the Tenants Union of Victoria.

Financial hardship

We have information about debt and financial issues, including where to go to get help.

Centrelink Crisis Payment

If you've had to leave your home because of severe hardship, you may qualify for Crisis Payment from Centrelink.

Crisis Payment is a one-off payment, equal to one week's payment of the normal Centrelink pension or benefit payment you are entitled to. It is limited to four payments for extreme circumstances in any 12 months.

Family violence

If you are experiencing family violence you can apply for an intervention order to protect you from a family member. There are many services where you can get help with family violence.

Begging

Technically, begging is against the law and the police have to enforce that law. You can be charged, fined or even imprisoned.

If the police see you begging and you are not causing any trouble they will probably just ask you to stop. However, if someone complains to the police or the police think you’re acting in a threatening or aggressive manner, they may charge you.