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Property rights

Section 20 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) protects your right to not be deprived of your property, including land, possessions and shares. The Charter applies to public authorities in Victoria, such as state and local government departments and agencies, and people delivering services on behalf of the government.

How does the law protect me?

Being able to own and use your property is vital for security, safety, cultural connection and economic participation. 

Under the Charter, you cannot be deprived of your property except in certain situations allowed by the law. This right covers both real property, such as land and possessions, and other forms of property like contractual rights, leases, shares and patents. 

This right might apply where property is acquired or seized under civil or criminal laws, where a public authority has a right to access a property, where planning laws restrict the use of property to a particular purpose, or where a car is impounded. 

This right also imposes a positive obligation on public authorities – they must make sure you are not deprived of your property by someone else. However, it’s important to note that this right does not give you the right to compensation if you are deprived of our property. 

This right is distinct from property rights under the Australian Constitution. 

Can these rights be limited in any way?

In some circumstances, one person’s right may come into conflict with the right of another person or group. In these circumstances, it can be necessary to limit or restrict these rights. Under section 7(2) of the Charter, rights may be limited in certain circumstances, but it must be reasonable, necessary, justified and proportionate.

How we can help

We can give you information about Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities but we do not handle complaints related to the Charter.

If you would like more information about the Charter and your rights, please contact us.

For information about the legal history of this right, case law or Australia’s human rights framework, you can read more in our Policy and Legal sections of our website.

How to make a human rights complaint

If you think your human rights have been breached, you should contact the Victorian Ombudsman.

If you want to make a complaint about police conduct, contact the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

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The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges that we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.