What is a charge?

What is a charge?

A charge on your house or property is a legal document that we ask you to sign to give Victoria Legal Aid security over the amount we spend on your legal problem. You will have to pay back this amount when your property is sold or transferred, or when you refinance or borrow money against your property. You can sign a charge even if you have a mortgage. We can also ask you to sign a charge if you obtain property while you are getting legal assistance or at the end of your case.

Legal assistance is not always free. If we ask you to sign a charge, it will be a condition of your legal assistance. You should speak to your lawyer in detail about what a charge is and get their advice before you sign the legal document. If you do not agree and do not sign the charge, we may refuse to grant legal assistance or may cancel your legal assistance.

You still own your property. We will not force you to sell, refinance or move out of your home.

If you agree to sign a charge, we will register a legal notice on your property at the Land Titles Office. This notice is called a caveat. It alerts people that we have an interest in your property. To register a caveat usually costs less than $100. This cost is added to the amount secured by the charge.

We may reconsider the requirement to sign a charge

Any requirement to sign a charge will be a condition of a grant of legal assistance. If you do not agree with the condition, you can ask us to reconsider it. To do this, you or your lawyer must call or write to us by the date specified in our letter about your grant of legal assistance.

If you sell, transfer or borrow against your house

If you plan to sell, transfer or borrow against your house you must tell us immediately. You have to pay the amount you owe us at the time of the property sale, transfer or borrowing. Even if you buy another house, you will still have to pay Victoria Legal Aid, so it is best to contact us first to find out how much money you owe.

The Land Titles Office will tell us if you sell, transfer or borrow money against your property.

How to remove the caveat

When you pay the money you owe us we will give you the forms you need to remove the caveat. Removal of a caveat costs less than $100. You will have to pay this fee when the caveat is removed. You can choose to pay us back at any stage, not just when you sell, transfer or refinance your property.

Yearly review of your financial situation

Each year you will be asked to fill in a financial statement. If your financial situation changes and we think you can afford it, we may ask you to make payments in the same way as a contribution (see What is a contribution?).

How we can help

Call us on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm, to find out about getting a grant of legal assistance.

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