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Resolving disputes

Information about the dispute resolution process, options and obligations in owner corporation situations.

Part 10 of Owners Corporation Act 2006 (Vic) sets out the processes for resolving disputes that arise where a resident, manager, lot owner or the owners corporation alleges that someone has breached the Act, Regulations of Rules. These are:

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) will hear matters:

  • that could not be resolved internally (by the owners corporation) or
  • involving a complaint about the owners corporation or the committee.

See Applying to VCAT

Complaint to the owners corporation (OC)

Usually a complaint has to be made to the owners corporation first. Complaints have to be in writing using the 'Owners corporation complaint form'. The OC has to give a copy of this form to anyone who asks.

See s. 152—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) and Forms.

Dispute resolution

When the OC gets a complaint they must try to sort out the dispute by using the dispute resolution process that is set out in their rules.

See the Consumer Affairs Victoria flowchart Resolving disputes about Owners corporations.

If dispute resolution does not resolve the complaint

When the OC gets the complaint it must take one of the options below:

  • take no action
  • ask the person, who is accused of breaching the law, to rectify the breach, or
  • refer the matter to VCAT seeking an order that the person rectify the breach.

If the OC decides not to take action they have to notify the person who complained and tell them why.

Notice to rectify the breach

The OC issues a 'Notice to rectify breach' to the person who is alleged to be in breach of the law. This notice must:

  • explain what they are supposed to have done and
  • asks them to rectify the breach within 28 days from the date of the notice.

If the person who is in breach of the rules is a tenant, the OC must also give a copy to the owner of the property.

If after 28 days the person has not complied with the notice they can:

  • give that person more time to comply
  • give them a final notice or
  • decide not to proceed any further.

See ss. 152 – 156—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) and 'Notice to rectify breach' in Forms.

Final notice must be issued before applying to VCAT

A final notice has to be in writing using the prescribed form. This notice gives the person a further 28 days to fix the breach.

If the person does not take action by the end of the 28 days, the OC may then apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an order to that person to fix the breach.

VCAT may strike out an application if the internal dispute processes have not been followed.

The OC has to inform both the person who made the complaint and the person who is in breach of their decision.

See ss. 153(3), 157—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic). 'Final notice to rectify breach' in Forms and Applying to VCAT.

Serving the notices

Notices sent by the owners corporation to the person in breach or the complainant may be posted, handed to the person, let in their lot letterbox, left with an occupier who seems to be over 16 years old.

See s. 158—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).

Complaint to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)

Complaints between the following people (or organisations) may be sent to CAV in writing:

  • lot owner (including a former owner)
  • a mortgagee (of a lot or unit)
  • an insurer
  • occupier (like a tenant)
  • purchaser
  • OC manager.

CAV can organise conciliation or mediation between the parties.

Referral of disputes to external organisations

If the matter falls outside CAV's jurisdiction, CAV will refer the matter to the appropriate prescribed body. Prescribed bodies that can mediate particular disputes outside the CAV's jurisdiction are:

  • Victorian Ombudsman
  • Health Complaints Commissioner
  • Legal Services Board
  • Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
  • Commonwealth Ombudsman.

See s. 161(3)—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).and r. 18—Owners Corporations Regulations 2018 (Vic).

Referral to VCAT by CAV

The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria may lodge an application to VCAT in relation to a owners corporation dispute.

See ss. 160, 161—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) and Consumer Affairs Victoria—Owners corporations.

More information

Legislation

Owners Corporation Act 2006 (Vic)

  • Part 10—dispute resolution
  • s. 152—complaints to the owners corporation
  • s. 153—what the owners corporation has to do when they get a complaint
  • s. 154—if the body corporate decides to take no action they have to let the complainant know why
  • s. 155—notice to rectify breach
  • s. 156—if breach is not fixed after giving notice
  • s. 157—final notice
  • s. 158—service of the notice
  • ss. 160, 161—complaints to Consumer Affairs Victoria

See Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).

Owners Corporation Regulations 2018 (Vic)

  • r. 18—referral of disputes to prescribed bodies

See Owners Corporations Regulations 2018 (Vic).

Reference

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)

The CAV site has information about the complaint process for people who have disputes between themselves that relate to common property governed by an owners corporation.

See Consumer Affairs Victoria—Owners corporations.

The Law Handbook

Fitzroy Legal Service’s Law Handbook has information about the dispute resolution process in its chapter about owners corporations. See:

Flowchart—Resolving disputes about Owners corporations

Resolving disputes about Owners corporations (pdf, 10 KB)(opens in a new window)

A chart from Consumer Affairs Victoria outlining the process of dispute resolution.

Updated