Frequently Asked Questions

Getting help

There are a number of free legal services which offer a range of support to renters. If you are at risk of being evicted, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as you can.
  • Justice Connect can provide representation at VCAT if you are at risk of being evicted into homelessness.
  • Tenants Victoria has online fact sheets, can provide legal advice over the phone, and may be able to represent you at the VCAT hearing, depending on how busy they are, your case and your location.
  • Victoria Legal Aid can provide legal advice over the phone, and have a duty lawyer service at some VCAT locations.
  • Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service can provide legal advice and maybe be able to represent you at VCAT if you identify as a Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person.
  • Your local community legal service might be able to provide legal advice or representation as well.
  • You can also pay for a private lawyer – the Law Institute of Victoria can help you find one.

Victorian rental laws are designed to protect people experiencing any form of family violence from a family member, partner or carer, even if you are not on the lease.

Our Home of Your Own tool is designed for Victorian renters affected by family violence to understand their rights and options for staying safely housed.  

To understand your rights and options, and what you can do to safely stay in or leave a rental, use Home of Your Own.

If you are struggling to pay your rent and your bills, a financial counsellor might be able to help you. Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide free information, advice and advocacy if you are in financial difficulty or struggling with debts. Depending on your circumstances, financial counsellors can help you have debts reduced, access concession rates on bills and utilities, and apply for no interest loans.  You can speak to a financial counsellor by calling 1800 007 007 or find a financial counsellor near you.

If you’re a Victorian renter behind in rent or worried you might fall behind in rent, use Dear Landlord, a free online self-help tool to guide you through your options and help you take action.

Dear Landlord is a free self-help tool available to all Victorians living in private rental (you may rent the property directly from the rental provider or through a real estate agent). Dear Landlord can help you:

  • Understand your options to stay in your home
  • Draft a letter to your rental provider to negotiate a payment plan or rent reduction
  • Prepare for VCAT or lodge a VCAT review application if you missed your hearing
  • Find important financial and legal help
If your legal problem is not related to being behind in rent but you are at risk of eviction or experiencing other problems with your rental, see if you are eligible for free legal help from Justice Connect.
Once received, your rental provider or real estate agency will let you know if they are willing to accept the payment plan proposal. Don’t be afraid to enquire if you haven’t heard back within 3-5 business day. Your rental provider might not accept your payment plan or might only accept full payment upfront. You don’t have to pay the full amount upfront if you can’t afford it. You don’t have to move out if your rental provider doesn’t accept your payment plan. If your rental provider doesn’t accept your payment plan, they might apply to have a decision about your rental made by VCAT. At VCAT, you should show the letter you sent as proof of your payment plan offer. VCAT will often look favourably on renters who try to negotiate a payment plan with rental providers early on.

Depending on the reasons you are behind in rent, VCAT can make a payment plan arrangement on your behalf (even if the rental provider doesn’t agree). It’s important to go to your VCAT hearing if you can because VCAT can make an order against you even if you’re not there.

You can read more about what to expect at VCAT in Dear Landlord.

You can apply for financial help to pay your rent or rent arrears if you’ve fallen behind.

Financial assistance – also known as brokerage – is funded by the Victorian Government, some specifically for people in private rental. This is distributed through your local housing organisation. Call Opening Doors on 1800 825 955 or find your closest housing organisation.

This type of financial assistance is not generally available for renters in public or community housing. Please check with your closest housing organisation about your eligibility for financial aid.

For a rundown of the various kinds of COVID-19 financial support available, visit our What kind of COVID-19 financial support is available? self-help resource on the Justice Connect site.


If you’re experiencing any issues generating or downloading your letter, get in touch with us at

If your VCAT application appears empty when downloaded, it may be an issue with the application ‘Preview’.

If on a computer – download the free Adobe PDF viewer and open the pdf in this application instead.

If on an iPhone – try using a different browser other than Safari if possible.

If you are still experiencing issues, you can reach out to us at

Using Dear Landlord

Dear Landlord can help you if:
  • You are renting a residential property in Victoria, Australia.
  • You rent from a private rental provider, not a public or community housing provider. You may rent directly from the rental provider or through a real estate agency.
  • You are behind in rent or might fall behind in rent.
  • You are an Australian citizen, permanent resident, temporary or any other type of visa holder.
If you are being evicted from public or community housing fill out our online form, or call Justice Connect on 1800 606 313 for legal help. Dear Landlord is not for commercial or retail leases, contact the Victorian Small Business Commission for help.
Dear Landlord is a free, self-help tool created by Justice Connect’s Homeless Law program.

Justice Connect designs and delivers high impact interventions to increase access to legal support and progress social justice.

Our Homeless Law program is Victoria’s specialist free legal service for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We specialise in preventing evictions into homelessness by offering integrated support from lawyers and social workers. We also work to challenge and change laws that unfairly impact on people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Justice Connect is grateful to our funders for their generous support of Dear Landlord:
  • Helen Macpherson Smith Trust
  • Lord Mayors’ Charitable Foundation
  • Ian Potter Foundation
  • Ramsay Foundation
We particularly acknowledge the people with lived experience of housing insecurity, homelessness and financial instability, who shared their insights that directly contributed to the development of Dear Landlord.

You can read more about Justice Connect on the About Us page.