Applying for a court hearing - rental disputes
Applications must be made to the court closest to the rented premises, unless the parties in the dispute agree to a different arrangement. Check with the court as to how this can be done.
The address of the court where the hearing will take place is shown on a form, which will be sent to you. Court staff will advise you on the correct form to lodge for a hearing or to defend a matter in dispute, and tell you what the application fees are. However, they cannot give you advice about the strength of your case, the possible result or what evidence you might need.
There are two forms used when applying for a hearing:
- Application for disposal of bond money (Form 6) is used for bond disputes where the amount in dispute is not more than the amount held in the bond account, and the bond has not been paid out.
- Court application (Form 12) is used for general disputes (such as unpaid rent, damage to property), a dispute where the amount being sought is greater than the bond, or circumstances arising from family and domestic violence. If you are in a family violence situation, helpful notes have been developed on how to complete the Form 12.
Each of these forms can be completed and lodged online via the Magistrates Court Online Forms system. This is the quickest and easiest way to apply. During the application process you may be asked to enter the bond reference number and party details. You can find these on your lodgement certificate. If you do not have your lodgement certificate, email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
If applying in person, make sure you use the right form. You should complete either a Form 6 or Form 12. Ask the court staff if you are still unsure.
Both tenants and lessors are entitled to be represented by a property manager or a person employed or engaged by a not-for-profit organisation. You must complete Form 24: Authorisation for an agent to present a party’s case available under the Residential tenancies forms list on the Magistrate Court's website. Attach the Form 24 to the Form 6 or Form 12 and submit them together to the Magistrates Court.
Hearings are relatively informal so it is possible for a tenant or lessor to represent themselves. Even if you are represented by a property manager, you should attend the hearing if you can. If this is not possible, discuss the issue with the court staff before you lodge the court forms.
Additionally the court has discretion to order that the tenant or lessor be represented or assisted by an advocate if they are unable to appear personally or represent themselves. This can happen as long as the other party will not be disadvantaged by the representation.
Usually the magistrate will only consider the items listed in the application, so give full details of the order you are seeking from the court, such as an order to terminate the tenancy agreement and gain possession of the premises.
Note: If you do not state all the possible orders, the hearing may be adjourned.
Court staff will check the application and enter it as an official court document. With a Form 12 application, a hearing date will be set automatically.
In the case of a bond dispute (Form 6), a hearing date will be set if the matter is to be disputed by the other party. Where the matter is not disputed and evidence of the expense incurred has been provided, the court will authorise payment of the bond as requested in the application. This is usually when the whereabouts of a tenant/owner is unknown and the tenant (or owner) has not signed the bond release.
The fee for the hearing is relatively small. Check with the court for the current rate.
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