COVID-19 and being evicted

COVID-19 and being evicted

There are changes to laws about renting in Victoria that will take effect from 29 March 2021.

These changes replace the temporary changes that were made in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes apply to ending a residential rental agreement (lease) if you are renting your home. 

If you are a renter (tenant) there are three things you need to know:

  • rules stopping evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed but you still cannot be evicted unless the residential rental provider (landlord) has a valid reason and follows all the legal steps

  • your rental provider cannot lock you out of a property you are renting or evict you themselves. Only the police can evict you, after all the legal steps have been followed

  • if you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See Get help with housing and tenancy.

The Tenants Victoria website also has more information about eviction.

 

What if my rental provider wants to evict me?

Your rental provider (the person you rent from), or their agent, must apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) and go through all the legal steps before police can evict you.

Your rental provider must send you a valid notice to vacate to start the process. They must prove that they have a lawful reason to end your tenancy. The tribunal will decide if it is fair to evict you.

If you have received a notice to vacate, you should get legal advice as soon as possible. You may be able to challenge the notice to vacate but you will have to act quickly. See Get help with housing and tenancy.

Do I have to go to the tribunal?

If your rental provider applies to the tribunal to evict you there will be hearing.

You should attend this hearing if you want to challenge the notice to vacate. Currently, tribunal hearings are by phone or video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be advised whether your hearing will be by video conference or by telephone and the tribunal will make a date and time to call you.

If your hearing is by telephone, it is important that you answer your phone at the time of the hearing. Make sure you are available for a few hours, in case the tribunal is running behind or your hearing takes some time.

What happens at the hearing?

Your rental provider (landlord) or their agent will need to prove to the tribunal that they have a valid reason for a possession order. For example, if your rental provider is selling the rental property, they must provide evidence like a sales agency agreement or a contract of sale.

You will be able to ask your rental provider questions about their reason and challenge it if you think it is wrong.

If the tribunal decides that your rental provider’s reason is lawful, the tribunal will then decide whether it is reasonable and proportionate to make a termination order.

The tribunal must consider whether it is reasonable and proportionate. It must consider things such as:

  • if the application is because you did something wrong, how serious it was, whether someone else caused it and whether you have tried to fix it
  • whether there is another option to fix the problem
  • your landlord or the real estate agent’s behaviour
  • if there is family violence or a personal safety intervention order
  • any other matter, such as how long you have lived there and how eviction would affect you and your family.

If the tribunal makes a possession order, it will decide the date you must leave by.

If a possession order says you must move out but you do not, your rental provider may get  a warrant to evict you. Police can evict you if they have this warrant. Only police can evict you in these circumstances. Your rental provider or someone else cannot evict you.

Can I get help at the tribunal?

You can get help if you need to go to the tribunal for a tenancy dispute. There have been changes to services at the tribunal in response to COVID-19 coronavirus, but you can still get help.

You can get free legal advice:

  • before your hearing date – you can get legal advice or a referral to another service by calling Legal Help on 1300 792 387
  • on your hearing date – you can speak with a duty lawyer by asking the tribunal for one before or during your hearing.

More information

The Tenants Victoria website has more information about changes to laws about renting in Victoria that will take effect from 29 March 2021.

Learn more about legal issues and COVID-19 coronavirus

See COVID-19 and ending your tenancy

See COVID-19 and paying rent

Visit our ‘Find legal answers’ page on Renting

Where to get help

See Get help with housing and tenancy

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