Going to trial - rental disputes
If the case is listed for trial, the magistrate or registrar will make programming orders beforehand. Programming orders indicate what you need to do to prepare for trial, such as writing and filing a witness statement. Failure to comply with any programming orders may prevent you from presenting your evidence.
Before trial, the magistrate may try again to settle the matter by reaching an agreement.
You can use this checklist to help prepare yourself for trial:
- Do I have a copy of the tenancy agreement?
- Was the bond lodged correctly?
- Have I kept records of the rent I have paid and the date of the last payment?
- Did I receive receipts for rent paid, and are they in order for quick reference by the magistrate?
- If the rent was paid directly into a bank account, do I have the appropriate statements?
- Have I arranged for witnesses to appear at the hearing (if required)?
- Have I gone through my evidence thoroughly?
Orders handed down by the magistrate can include:
- ending a tenancy agreement;
- how bond money will be paid out;
- an action to be carried out in accordance with the tenancy agreement;
- stopping any action which breaches the tenancy agreement;
- payment of compensation by the person in breach of the agreement, for loss or injury (other than personal injury), caused by the breach;
- a reduction in rent payments for a period of time; and
- payment of rent into the court until the lessor carries out the magistrates order to remedy a breach or for compensation.
There are no appeals against the decision of the magistrate, except on the grounds the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case or natural justice was denied (such as if you can show you weren’t given the opportunity to state your case).
If an order to end a tenancy agreement is granted and you can show that you would suffer hardship if it was to take effect immediately, you can ask the magistrate to suspend the order for up to 30 days.
If a party does not pay an amount ordered by the magistrate, you can take action to enforce the order. See the publication If they don’t pay – What happens if court/tribunal orders are not paid?
The successful party has the right to recoup court fees paid.
Tenants and lessors can seek legal advice through a lawyer.