Difficulty paying rent

Last updated: 13 September 2017

If you can't pay your rent, tell your local office straight away – they will help you work out what to do.

You can also ask for help from the Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program. They offer support to help you keep your tenancy.

What happens if I don't pay my rent?

If you get more than $5 behind in your rent, we send you a letter asking you to pay the unpaid amount.

We will give you one week from receiving the letter to contact us to talk about your repayment options.

If you don't contact us, your housing officer will contact you.

Don't ignore our letters or messages. It is important that we talk to you about your repayment options.

What are my repayment options?

Repayment options give you opportunities to make up a missed payment.

If you can't pay the amount you owe straight away, we may be able to arrange a 'local agreement' with you. This means you would pay your weekly rent plus an extra amount over an agreed time.

It is important to stick to the agreement. If you miss a payment, you can't make another local agreement. If this happens we may need to take action to get back what you owe through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

What is the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal?

The Victorial Civil and Administrative Tribunal is an independent tribunal (like a court). The tribunal hears and makes decisions on a range of disputes, including those between landlords and tenants.

Do I have to go to the tribunal hearing?

If you have to go to a tribunal hearing, you can explain to the tribunal why your rent payments haven't been made.

The tribunal listens to you (the tenant) and us (the landlord). It then makes a decision based on the law.

What happens at the tribunal?

If you have not made your rent payments, the tribunal may establish a legal agreement.

This is the same as a local agreement except that it is backed by law.

If you break the legal agreement, we can return to the tribunal and ask for an order for possession. This means you may not be able to stay in the property any more.

It is important that you go to the hearing to explain why you have not paid your rent.

If you don't go, the tribunal won't be able to hear your side of the story and could issue an order for possession against you.

What happens if the department gets an order for possession?

An order for possession means you don't have a legal right to stay in the property any more.

If the tribunal grants this order, your housing officer will write and ask you to visit your local office for an interview.

At the interview you'll be given one more chance to pay back what you owe.

If you don't pay, we'll get a warrant of possession allowing us to evict you.

How to avoid legal action

  • Always pay your rent on time
  • Pay your rent from your Centrelink payment or bank account. This way, your rent is automatically paid on time
  • Contact your local office immediately if you can't pay your rent or if you forget to pay. This way, you won't get too far behind and we have a better chance of helping you to repay the money you owe
  • Never ignore a letter from us if you are behind in your rent. We may have to take legal action against you.


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