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.
Emergency accommodation and homelessness assistance
If you need emergency accommodation, or are at risk of homelessness and need help, you can call Opening Doors on 1800 825 955 to speak with a housing and support worker. The service is available 24 hours a day.
If you have a problem with a government-funded homelessness support and accommodation service such as crisis accommodation, the 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 and social housing
Public and social 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 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 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.
Centrelink Crisis Payment
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.
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.
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au
Reviewed 07 April 2022