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Eviction or ending a residential tenancy

Victoria’s laws about evictions and ending a residential tenancy have temporarily changed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

From 29 March 2020, tenants in financial hardship cannot be given a notice to vacate by a landlord. Landlords can terminate the tenancy in limited circumstances by order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

In most circumstances, tenants and landlords should try to come to an agreement about a temporary rent reduction that they can both afford. 

Financial hardship is stressful and can affect you in different ways. It’s important to know that there are support services that can help you with your finances, relationships and mental health during this challenging time.

Supporting tenants

From 29 March 2020, tenants who are in financial hardship due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic cannot be given a notice to vacate by a landlord. Any Notice to Vacate which provides a termination date on or after 29 March 2020 is of no effect. Tenants do not need to move out if they are experiencing financial hardship. 

Landlords must have an order from VCAT to evict tenants

Tenants cannot be evicted unless VCAT decides that it is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances. There are now limited reasons why landlords can ask VCAT to end a tenancy.

    • tenant failed to comply with obligations under the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, including by not paying rent, in circumstances where the tenant could do so without suffering severe hardship
    • serious damage caused by the tenant or their visitor
    • endangering safety of neighbours, the landlord (or their agent), or contractors/employees of the landlord
    • serious threats or intimidation against the landlord, their agent or their contractors/employees
    • failure to comply with a VCAT order under s212 of the Residential Tenancies Act
    • the tenant has been given a notice to leave under s368 in relation to serious acts of violence
    • illegal use of the property
    • landlord is selling rented premises
    • rented premises are unfit for human habitation or destroyed
    • assignment or sublet without landlord’s consent
    • landlord or their family member is moving back in
    • tenant has not complied with a VCAT order excluding a pet from the premises

    Extra reasons for social housing tenants 

    • premises are the property of a statutory authority which requires them for a public purpose after the termination date
    • premises were provided as transitional housing by the Director of Housing and the tenant is unreasonably refusing to accept an offer of alternative accommodation
    • landlord is the Director of Housing and the landlord is intending to repair, renovate, rebuild or demolish the rented premises
    • landlord is a public statutory authority and the tenant has misled them regarding their eligibility for public or social housing
    • tenant has committed drug offences in rented premises or in a common area, where the landlord is the Director of Housing,
    • tenant commits a prescribed indictable offence where the landlord is the Director of Housing
    • landlord is a public statutory authority and tenant no longer meets eligibility criteria

If a landlord wants to end a tenancy

If a landlord wants to end a tenancy for one of these reasons, they must first apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria, who may refer the application to VCAT.

If Consumer Affairs Victoria refers the application to VCAT, VCAT will decide whether it is reasonable and proportionate to end the tenancy. 

If tenants do want to end the tenancy once a landlord’s application is referred to VCAT, they can give notice of intention to vacate with 14 days’ notice. Tenants cannot be charged fees for ending a tenancy in this way.

  • The amount of time that VCAT gives tenants to leave will depend on the circumstances.

    VCAT could order tenants to leave immediately if it finds that the:

    • tenant or a visitor have caused serious damage
    • tenant is endangering safety of neighbours, the landlord (or their agent), or contractors/employees of the landlord
    • tenant has been given a notice to leave under s368 of the Residential Tenancies Act in relation to serious acts of violence
    • rented premises are unfit for human habitation or destroyed.

    VCAT must give tenants at least 14 days to leave if it finds that the:

    • tenant made serious threats or intimidation against the landlord, their agent or their contractors/employees
    • tenant failed to comply with a VCAT order under s212 of the Residential Tenancies Act - Read more information on the Victorian Legislation website
    • tenant made illegal use of the property
    • tenant assigned or sublet without the landlord’s consent.

    VCAT must give tenants at least 28 days to leave if it finds that the:

    • tenant failed to comply with their obligations under the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act, including by not paying rent, in circumstances where they could have done so without suffering severe hardship
    • tenant has not complied with a VCAT order excluding a pet from the premises.

    VCAT must give tenants at least 60 days to leave if the:

    • landlord is selling the premises
    • landlord or their family member are moving in.

For more information on the VCAT process, visit the VCAT website.

Tenants can still end a tenancy

Ending a month-to-month (periodic) tenancy

A tenant can issue a notice of intention to vacate as normal using the Notice to landlord of rented premises form

Ending a fixed-term tenancy 

A tenant may end their fixed-term tenancy early if they need to move because they:

  • require special or personal care
  • are moving into public or community housing
  • require temporary crisis accommodation 
  • are a specialist disability accommodation (SDA) resident and have been given a notice that the SDA provider’s registration, or enrolment of the SDA dwelling, has been revoked
  • are suffering severe hardship
  • have been notified that the landlord applied to VCAT to terminate the tenancy.

For any of these reasons, a tenant can give their landlord a notice of intention to vacate with 14 days’ notice using the Notice to landlord of rented premises form. Tenants don’t need to apply to VCAT to end the tenancy. There are other reasons that a tenant can end a fixed term tenancy, but they may have to pay costs to the landlord for breaking the lease. Get more information about ending a tenancy from Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Ending a lease because of family violence

Anyone who has been or is being subjected to family violence or intimate partner violence in the home that they rent can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to end or change their tenancy agreement. Consumer Affairs Victoria can provide information and advice on the process.

Reviewed 16 November 2020

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