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Handling Complaints

Process for handling disputes

Communication is often the best way to prevent disputes so your owners corporation should encourage neighbours to talk about their concerns to resolve disputes.

It is good practice for an owners corporation to make a policy about day-to-day communication about lot owners and the owners corporation.

For more information, view the Consumer Affairs Communication about owners corporation rules page.

The Owners Corporations Act 2006 sets out a process to help owners corporations deal with complaints.

This process has three steps:

  • internal dispute resolution

  • dispute resolution through the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV)

  • hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Complaints to the owners corporation may relate to an alleged breach of the:

  • Owners Corporations Act 2006

  • Owners Corporations Regulations 2018

  • owners corporation's rules.

Internal dispute resolution

Your owners corporation must have an internal dispute resolution process to help its members and people living in the property deal with grievances without resorting to legal action. We suggest following this process before you ask the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) to undertake dispute resolution, or before you apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a hearing on the matter, as you may be able to get a quick resolution through your owners corporation.

The process should set out:

  • who to contact if there is a problem or complaint

  • rules detailing the grievance procedure

  • directions about where to get information

  • how to record the problem or the breach of rules

  • how to notify your owners corporation committee or manager of a problem or complaint

  • how to raise an issue at an owners corporation or committee meeting

  • formal complaint procedures

  • how to nominate a third party to help resolve a dispute.

Making a complaint

A lot owner, tenant or manager can make a complaint in writing to the owners corporation using the approved Owners corporation complaint form

If the owners corporation decides to take no action, it must provide the complainant with written reasons.

If the owners corporation decides to take action, it must:

  • give the person who the complaint is against the approved Notice to rectify breach - owners corporations (Word, 67KB), which informs them that they have 28 days to rectify the breach

  • also give a copy of the notice to the lot owner if the complaint is against their tenant.

Keeping records

  • The owners corporation will ask for a written record of facts when it receives a formal complaint. You can use the Issue log sheet - owners corporations to provide this.

  • A written record is also required if the complaint goes to DSCV or VCAT.

Rules for grievance procedures

Grievances can occur if an owners corporation makes a decision about a complaint that the parties to the complaint do not agree with. To deal with this, your owners corporation can:

If your owners corporation makes its own rules for grievances, these rules must be recorded at Land Use Victoria to be enforceable. The proposed grievance procedure rules must not conflict with the Act, its Regulations, or natural justice. For example, your owners corporation may make a rule that states: “If you wish to raise an issue, you can make a written request for a meeting of the owners corporation or its committee”.

This meeting would give the affected parties an opportunity to comment on the problem or complaint, and the owners corporation or its committee may be able to make a decision on the matter.

If the problem is not resolved

If the problem is not resolved within 28 days – that is, the person who the complaint is against does not rectify the breach - the owners corporation can choose to extend the deadline by issuing the person with a final notice in writing using the approved Final notice to rectify breach - owners corporations (Word, 59KB).

The final notice should state that:

  • the person has 28 days from the date of the notice to comply

  • if the breach is not rectified within 28 days, the owners corporation may take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Your owners corporation must first try to resolve the matter through an internal grievance procedure before applying to VCAT.

If the complaint is by the owners corporation against a lot owner, tenant or manager, the next step is to apply for a hearing at VCAT. For more information, visit the Application to the Owners Corporation List page on the VCAT website.

Resolving owners corporation disputes through the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV)

If you are a lot owner, tenant or manager and your complaint cannot be resolved using your owners corporation’s internal dispute resolution process, you can:

  • contact us for information and advice

  • seek advice on dispute resolution assistance from DSCV.

It is not compulsory to seek DSCV's assistance before applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). However, DSCV may be able to help resolve the issue more quickly and at a lower cost.

DSCV can only try to resolve a dispute if all parties agree to take part in this process.

Applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

The owners corporation must follow its internal grievance procedure before making an application to VCAT.

VCAT accepts complaints from:

  • a manager or former manager

  • a lot owner or former lot owner

  • the owners corporation

  • the occupier or former occupier of a lot

  • a mortgagee of a lot

  • an insurer under a policy taken out by the owners corporation

  • the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria.

What can VCAT do?

The tribunal can impose penalties for breaches of rules and make a wide range of other orders, such as:

  • ordering someone to do something

  • imposing a penalty for breaches of rules

  • requiring the payment of money owed, as damages or restitution

  • varying or ordering a term of a contract void

  • appointing or removing a manager

  • appointing or removing a chairperson or secretary

  • appointing an administrator.

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