There is usually a lot at stake when dealing with land.  Property disputes often have serious financial implications because you may end up losing part of your land. And if you do not deal with the problem early it will usually be an expensive exercise to resolve.   

People also underestimate the non financial impacts of a property dispute as it can also have a serious impact on your relationship with your neighbour, friends or family.  Like any dispute it is stressful and time consuming. 

We have seen many different types of property disputes and have highlighted some key tips in how to resolve them. 

Types of property disputes 

There are various different types of property disputes, some examples include: 

  • Co-ownership dispute:
    This is where you own a property with another person who’s not your spouse and both registered as property owners. These disputes usually arise because one person wants to sell the property and the other person doesn’t want to sell.
  • Sale and purchase of property:
    There are often issues involved in the conveyance of property. This may include issues with finance, disputes involving terms of the contract, misrepresentation, or failure to settle the contract.
  • Commercial and retail lease disputes:
    This can arise if the tenant fails to pay rent or either the tenant or landlord fails to comply with their obligations under the lease.
  • Recovery of land:
    Sometimes a situation arises where one party who was invited onto the land overstays their welcome.  Recently, we have found a number of cases where a child returns home to their family home living with parents but remains in the house after the parents have passed away.  That child then refuses to leave the house.  This prevents you from selling the property and dividing the proceeds between all the beneficiaries of the parent’s Will.  In this case we would (and have) applied to the Supreme Court to recover possession of the land on behalf of the parent’s estate.
  • Caveats disputes:
    Sometimes issues arise where a caveat has been incorrectly placed on the title of your land because of a dispute relating to unpaid invoices or loans.  In these cases, provided there is no basis for the caveat, we can commence a process of removing the caveat from the title of your property.  
  • Boundary or neighbour disputes:
    This will involve a dispute about shared boundaries with your neighbour or may involve issues with access or adverse possession. 

Engage early 

It is important to engage with your lawyer early and seek legal advice.  It is important to identify all the legal issues and this will dictate how you go about resolving it. 

Sometimes the answer is simple and can be resolved if identified early.  Other times it will be necessary to complete more investigations on the title of the property or engage with third parties such as surveyors or Council. 

Once you have all the information you require and you are armed with your legal advice we can prepare a strategy to try and resolve the dispute. 

Document everything 

It is important that every agreement is documented in writing and signed by both parties. Often property disputes arise over a long period of time. So it’s important that you try and document any important transactions or interactions related to property dispute as you go. 

If the parties come to a resolution it is important you seek legal advice as this will need to be documented and may have consequences on legal ownership of the property or other consequences such as taxation.  Remember, it is not an enforceable agreement unless it is in writing and signed by the parties. 

Enforcing your rights 

If the matter cannot be resolved the dispute should be determined by referring the matter to the appropriate Court or Tribunal for resolution.  Litigation is costly and stressful.  We have extensive experience in handling a range of complex property litigation in all Victorian Courts. 

If you find yourself in a property dispute contact the experienced Dispute Resolution team at WJM.  Providing legal advice for businesses in Geelong and along the Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast for over 140 years, WJM’s legal expertise will work to resolve your property dispute promptly and effectively.