If you have ever had a residential leasing dispute resolved at VCAT I hope you found it easy and fair. Some find it frustrating and even disappointing. If your experience was in pre-covid times you would almost certainly have a very different experience today.
This week The Age released a story about the challenges owners and renters are having with VCAT. It stated thousands of cases are unable to even get a hearing date to resolve disputes. From our own experience at Wood Property we do everything to avoid a matter going to VCAT by negotiating an outcome that will often be better for everyone. While our success rate is high, sometimes all endeavours fail and we have had to apply to VCAT for a resolution. For compensation cases we are still waiting for hearing date 18 months later with advice that it may take over 2 years to be heard.
The Age reported figures from the Justice Department which stated the backlog of cases is 130% of pre-pandemic levels and while the VCAT town planning matters moved swiftly online, the residential tenancy list is struggling. It normally hears 50,000 cases a year and is currently operating at 60% of that. There are about 10,000 cases in the VCAT system awaiting resolution of bonds and compensation disputes.
This is a nightmare for renters who are waiting for a bond to be released or an owner to recover costs caused by a renter. Understandably VCAT is prioritising urgent matters like domestic violence, extreme hardship or critical repairs but this means all the other matters are being pushed out and they may take years to be heard.
Hopefully additional funding and a faster online process will be coming soon to help them work through the backlog.