Guide for Applications to VCAT
The Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has power to determine a number of
different sorts of applications about owners corporations
About this guide • If paying in person at the Ground Floor,
55 King Street,Melbourne you can pay over the
This guide is designed to give you information about counter by credit card, cheque, money order,
applying for VCAT to determine a dispute about an
cash and eftpos.
owners corporation. Please read this guide before
completing any applications about a dispute concerning
an owners corporation. • To find out the current fee, visit the VCAT website
at www.vcat.vic.gov.au. Alternatively, call
This guide is merely a summary of the laws, so it may not the Consumer Affairs Helpline on 1300 55 81 81
contain everything you need to know. It is meant to help or VCAT on 9628 9830 (1800 133 055) for callers
you get started with an application.
from rural Victoria.
Consumer Affairs Victoria can help you find other ways to
solve the dispute. Contact Consumer Affairs Helpline on
Who should I name as the respondent or other
1300 55 81 81
Which sort of application form should I use?
If you are applying about a dispute involving the operation If you want VCAT to order a person or body to do
of an owners corporation, you should use Owners something, you should name that person or body as
Corporations Form A. respondent. If other persons or bodies may be affected
by the decision, you should name them as interested
parties. VCAT may join other parties who it considers are
If you are applying about a matter covered by the affected by the application.
Subdivision Act 1988, such as an easement, purchase or
disposal of land, alteration of the plan of subdivision
affecting an owners corporation or winding up of an What about addresses?
owners corporation, you should use Owners
Corporations Form B. You must provide an address for each party you name as
a respondent or interested party. For a company or
If you are applying about a decision made by the Business owners corporation or other such body, you must provide
Licensing Authority about registration of a manager of an its registered address.
owners corporation, you should use Owners Corporations
Form C. The registered address for an owners corporation must be
provided by the corporation on request, from its register.
What is the fee for applying?
If you need the registered address of a company, you can
A fee must be paid with this application by one of the obtain it from the Australian Securities and Investments
following methods: Commission (ASIC) at its business centre or web site.
You will need to pay a fee to obtain the registered
• If mailing the application you can pay by credit card, address. The free information provided by ASIC does not
cheque or money order made out to the Victorian include the registered address of a company.
Civil and Administrative Tribunal. If faxing the
application to (03) 9628 9967, you can only pay by
credit card. If paying by credit card, you will also need
to complete a ‘Payment by Credit Card’ form available
at www.vcat.vic.gov.au or by calling VCAT.
Version 1. November 2007
APPLYING UNDER THE OWNERS • Noise and nuisance
CORPORATIONS ACT • Behaviour of a manager or employee
• Financial management
What applications can I make under the Owners • The keeping of records
Corporations Act? • The maintenance plan for the owners corporation
• Repairs and maintenance including the outward
appearance of the lots or common property
Under this Act, you can use Form A to apply about an
owners corporation dispute or ask for exemptions from • People entering a lot for repairs or maintenance
the Act or for orders restricting access to the records of an • Insurance
owners corporation or for the appointment of a manager • Decisions and procedures at meetings of the owners
or administrator for an owners corporation. corporation
• Committees and delegations
You can use Form C to apply about registration of a • Making rules for an owners corporation
manager. • Keeping records for an owners corporation
• Seeking exemption from some requirements of the Act
The rest of the information in this section is about or Regulations for a particular owners corporation
application made using Form A. • Appointing a manager or other officer if necessary
What is an owners corporation dispute? What should I do before applying to VCAT?
An owners corporations dispute is a dispute which affects You should try to resolve the dispute before applying to
an owners corporation and arises under the Owners VCAT. There are many things you can try, such as:
Corporations Act or from the Regulations made under that • Follow the dispute resolution process in the rules of the
Act or from the Rules of an owners corporation. owners corporation
• Complain to the owners corporation which may
Who can apply? decide to follow a process of internal dispute resolution
• Complain to Consumer Affairs Victoria, which can
Any of the following persons can apply about an owners provide conciliation and mediation
• A manager or former manager of an owners corporation Think before you apply. Getting an order from VCAT may
• A lot owner or former lot owner of an owners corporation lot not be the best way to solve the problem. If you are
• An owners corporation having a dispute with your neighbours, it might be wiser
to seek mediation through Consumer Affairs Victoria or
• An occupier of former occupier of a lot in an owners some other body.
• A mortgagee of a lot in an owners corporation VCAT will accept your application even if you have not
tried other ways to solve the problem, EXCEPT if it is the
• An insurer under an owners corporation insurance policy
owners corporation itself making an application – for them
there are special requirements. (see next paragraph)
Also a creditor of an owners corporation or a person with
an interest in land affected by an owners corporation may What must an owners corporation do before
apply for an order appointing an administrator of an applying to VCAT?
An owners corporation can only apply about a breach of
the Owners Corporations Act or Regulations or of the
What can I apply about? rules of the owners corporation if it has first followed the
dispute resolution procedure set out in the rules of that
You can apply about anything covered by the Owners owners corporation. If the owners corporation has not
Corporations Act or Regulations or by the rules of the made any rules of its own, the procedure in the Model
Rules applies. The model rules are available from
relevant owners corporation. To assist you, here are
Consumer Affairs Victoria.
some examples of the things you could apply about.
There are many others which are not listed. An owners corporation can only apply about recovery of
• Health, safety and security problems fees from lot owners after it has followed the notice
• Metering of services and how much is paid for services procedure set out in section 31 and 32 of the Owners
• Use of the common property
• Vehicles and parking on common property Before applying about anything other than recovering
• Damage to the common property or care of the common fees or enforcing the rules, the owners corporation must
obtain the support of a special resolution of the
• Behaviour of other owners, occupiers or guests
What can VCAT order? provide mediation or to require the parties to exchange
further documents will usually be decided at a directions
hearing. If that is considered necessary you will receive
VCAT can make different sorts of orders, including the
further information from VCAT at the time you are notified
of the date of hearing.
• order a party to do or not do something
• order a party to comply with the Act,Regulations
What happens at the hearing?
• payment of money
If the case goes straight to hearing, the person hearing
• vary a contract or agreement the case (the Member) may spend some time seeing if
• declare whether a contract or agreement is or is not void the parties can agree to resolve the dispute without a full
• declare the meaning of a rule hearing. If the parties cannot agree, the Member will start
• declare the meaning of a delegation the hearing.
• appoint a committee
• revoke an appointment Behaviour – everyone must be polite.
• appoint or revoke the appointment of a manager
• make an order about damaged or destroyed buildings Evidence – parties and witnesses give their evidence
under oath. Usually the applicant and the applicant’s
witnesses give evidence first. The respondent and the
• order an insurance payment respondent’s witnesses will then give their evidence
• an order about recording the Tribunal’s order in the followed by any other interested parties who the tribunal
Register kept under the Transfer of Land Act 1958 considers are affected by the application.
or requiring amendment of that Register
• an exemption from some requirement of the Owners Facts – the Member may limit the evidence parties and
their witnesses may give about the dispute. The Member
Corporations Act (only an owners corporation may
may stop parties and witnesses from speaking about
apply) things which the parties may want to say but the Member
• an order restricting access to your personal information believes will not affect the decision to be made.
• an order appointing an administrator
Questions – Parties will generally be able to ask
How do I apply to VCAT? questions of each other and their witnesses. The Member
may also ask questions.
Complete the application form. Make sure you name the
parties correctly. Failure to do this may result in the Decision – the Member will give the parties a chance to
wrong people attending the hearing or an order being be sure they have said everything they want to say and
made but unenforceable. then make a decision.
Lodge the application form and the fee.
Can I have a lawyer or someone to help me?
INFORMATION ABOUT THE HEARING
At VCAT, if the case is not complex, lawyers are usually
OF AN OWNERS CORPORATION DISPUTE
not allowed unless the other parties consent. If you do
wish to use a lawyer, he or she will need to seek leave at
The information in this section is about Applications made the hearing to represent you.
using Form A.
How do I prepare for a hearing?
Notice of hearing
Always keep in mind that these are legal hearings
A copy of your application and any attached affecting the rights of all parties to the application.
documents will be sent to the respondent and other • you must be accurate
parties you name to notify them of your application. • you must prepare
• you only get ‘one go’
VCAT will send all parties a Notice of Hearing letter. This The case is decided on the evidence given at the hearing.
letter will state the date, time and place of the hearing. The best evidence is given verbally by you and your
witnesses supported by original documents. You may
Some cases may require more than one hearing or may wish to prepare a written statement to read out at the
be suitable for mediation or a Directions Hearing. VCAT hearing.
may provide mediation even if you have already tried Make sure you bring all your evidence with you to the
other forms of dispute resolution. Whether or not to hearing.
It is no good saying “I can get the evidence later” – you corporation, a responsible delegate of the
must have it with you on the day. corporation.
Failure to bring this letter will mean the agent will not be
What do I need to bring to the hearing? allowed to represent you or the Company or owners
Verbal evidence from witnesses is much more valuable Can I get an adjournment?
than written statements or letters.
Adjournments are not often granted unless you have the
Documents relating to your dispute written consent of all other parties. This written consent
must be sent to VCAT prior to the hearing. An
• Diaries, reports of phone conversations, meetings and
adjournment request must have supporting documents to
appointments etc show why an adjournment is needed (eg a detailed
• Contracts, letters, invoices, statements, cheque book medical certificate - if the certificate does not provide
receipts etc details it may not be accepted). If a request for an
adjournment is refused, the hearing will proceed as
• Plans, drawings, time sheets, job cards etc
• Any other documents you feel would support your case.
• Notices or minutes of meetings of the owners
Are there other costs besides the fee?
At VCAT, parties are expected to pay their own legal
Photographs & VHS videos costs, unless the tribunal orders otherwise. In more
These should be supplied where: complex cases, where hearings are longer and more
issues are involved, VCAT may order the ‘losing’ party or
• it will help VCAT to understand the case more clearly; or
a party which has caused the hearing to be lengthy or
• you want to record something to show that it happened difficult to pay the legal costs of the other parties.
(eg graffiti or garbage problems).
What happens if I miss the hearing?
Individuals are expected to appear in person. Agents will Orders may be made in your absence. A re-hearing may
only be allowed in exceptional circumstances. If there are only be permitted if there is sufficient reason for any
joint applicants, VCAT must be satisfied that the person absence. An application for a re-hearing must be in the
appearing has the authority of any persons not appearing. form of a Statutory Declaration to VCAT, Civil Claims List
Failure to appear or not authorise an agent may result in within 14 days of a party becoming aware of a Tribunal
your claim being dismissed. order being made. Please contact VCAT for a form.
Because an owners corporation or a company is not an What if I want to appeal?
individual, it must nominate an agent to represent it at the
A party may seek leave to appeal a decision to the
Supreme Court of Victoria. If you want to appeal you
All agents must have the authority to bind all persons and should seek legal advice immediately after VCAT has
Incorporated bodies at any settlement negotiations and in made an order. Time limits apply.
any decision made or undertakings given. Make sure you
choose your agent carefully. The agent should be the
person who has the best personal knowledge of the
Video conferencing facilities
issues in dispute.
Applications for video or telephone hearings are not easily
The agent must bring a letter to the hearing that: granted. All video and telephone conferences are paid for
by the person asking for it, unless VCAT orders otherwise.
• quotes the VCAT file number (this can be found on Contact VCAT for further information.
your Notice of Hearing letter); and
• states the name of the agent; and
Interpreters for the hearing
• states the occupation of the agent; and
• contains a statement that the agent has sufficient
If you need an interpreter to attend the hearing, you
knowledge of the issue in dispute and is vested with should contact VCAT who will arrange for an interpreter at
sufficient authority to bind you/ the company / the no cost to any party. Using relatives and friends at the
owners corporation. hearing is not usually acceptable.
• is signed and dated by you (if an individual), or a
company director (if a company) or if an owners