Have A Real Property Dispute In Australia? Here’s What You Can Do

Have A Real Property Dispute In Australia? Here’s What You Can Do

January 9, 2020 Off By Glespynorson


Property dispute is a legal row regarding a real property, also known as real estate. These cases can get really complicated and you may end up having to involve a lawyer to reach a settlement. However, that may not always have to be the case. Law proceedings are expensive and time-consuming. So you would always prefer to address the issue without taking the matter to court. Here in this article, we have listed a few ways you can get around challenges like these without involving a judicial authority.

What Can Be Considered As Real Property?

Real property can be defined legally as land and anything that grows on, attached to, or built upon such land. This may involve man-made buildings, agricultural ground, as well as oil, gases, and minerals found under the land. The special feature of real property is that it is immovable, as opposed to personal property, which can be moved or transferred.

Types Of Property Disputes That Can Occur

Several aspects may come under a property dispute. the most common forms of dispute that occur are as follows:

  • Among neighbours:
  1. A disagreement over the property line.
  2. A neighbour’s view may be obstructed by a fence too high.
  3. A neighbour may have constructed a structure like a fence, rows of trees, too high a tree, bushes, or hedges, objectionable to another neighbour.
  4. There can be a complaint about excessive noise or pets.
  5. There can also be a safety issue.
  • Between a landlord and a tenant:

A dispute may occur in relation to damages and repairs or termination of the lease in a rental property.

  • Regarding a mortgage:

Mortgage lenders and creditors may argue over the owner of the proceedings of a foreclosure sale.

  • Related to Homeowners’ associations:

A homeowner and a real estate developer may have an argument over the responsibilities of home repairs or new construction in the property.

  • Connected to Government agencies:
  1. A homeowner may dispute a government agency about the permission for a utility easement inside the property premises.
  2. There can be a zoning issue regarding property usage – commercial versus residential.
  • With an insurance agency:

An insurance company may dispute a homeowner regarding the responsibility of a party injured on the property, or an area of the property damaged.

  • About trespassers:

A homeowner may fight a person entering the property, staying in the property, or using the property without permission.

  • Between family members:
  1. There can be a fight over the lawful ownership of a given property between family members.
  2. There can be a dispute over the division of a property after a divorce of a couple.

What You Can Do About It

Every issue has a different solution. However, in most cases, going to court to resolve it may not be the best idea because of the added expenses, hassle, and the long-time it takes for a court to make a final decision. So it is always best to try handling the situation personally. Whenever there is any dispute, make sure you collect all written data about it before contacting any authority. Here you may find how to approach these property disputes before you involve the legal authorities:

  • Neighbour trouble:
    1. The best way to resolve an issue with your neighbour while maintaining a good relationship with him/her is to discuss the matter in detail to reach a decision, agree to share any expenses, and sign a written agreement about it.
    2. If you and your neighbour are unable to reach a common agreement, you can involve a third party for mediation, or contact the Dispute Settlement Centre of your state for advice and a range of free and confidential dispute resolution services. If the matter is still unsolved, you can take it to the Magistrates’ court.
    3. If there is a boundary problem, get a licensed surveyor to assess the property and physically mark out the boundaries accurately. Then discuss with your neighbour. If that does not solve the matter, you can get Community Mediation Services through your local council.
    4. If you have a noise or a pet problem with your neighbour, first contact your local council and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to find out the rules regarding such troubles in your area. Then talk to your neighbour about it. Take the matter to the Dispute Settlement Centre if you cannot resolve it verbally.
    5. If a dispute with the neighbour makes you fear for your safety, you can apply for a Personal Safety Intervention Order at any Magistrates’ court in your state.
  • Landlord and tenant:
    1. For landlords: If you cannot fix an issue with a tenant with discussion, for landlords, each state in Australia has a complaint service. In South Wales, you can use Fair Trading’s complaint service. In Queensland, you can contact the Residential Tenancies Authority. In Victoria, you can take help from Consumer Affairs Victoria’s free conciliation service. In South Australia, you can contact 131 882 for all information regarding tenancy dispute.
    2. For tenants: If there was an injury in the premises because of the negligence of the landlord is keeping the property in good repair, you can ask him/her for “occupier’s liability” insurance to cover the damages. If they do not have the insurance, the injured person can go to court and claim damages by proving the owner’s negligence.
  • Homeowner and real estate agent:
    1. The best way to avoid a conflict with a real estate agent is to research extensively about local experts before committing to a contract.
    2. If there is a conflict, before going to court, you may avail arbitration and mediation services provided by a few states.
    3. If you have lost money because of an unfair act of an agent, you may be entitled to claim for compensation.
    4. If your issue goes unresolved, lodge a written complaint with the Office of Fair Trading.
  • Insurance agencies:

If you have any complaint about any property insurance, contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). If you have a concern regarding home building compensation, contact the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).

  • Trespassers:

If someone enters into or uses your property without your permission, and refuses to leave on asking, you are allowed to use reasonable force against him/her. If that does not fix the problem, you may take him/her to the Supreme Court for an injunction, even if he/she has not caused any damage. However, in case you go beyond reasonable means, the trespasser can sue you as well.

  • Regarding property ownership:

A property dispute can arise in a jointly owned property after a marriage or relationship breakdown, death of the owner, business venture collapse, or after the bankruptcy of one owner. The best resolution, in this case, could be for one owner to buy the other’s share of the property. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the co-owner can apply to the Supreme Court. Although in the case of a marriage a relationship break down, the Family Court is the best jurisdiction.

Do You Need To Hire A Lawyer?

Real property laws vary from state to state and as you must have realized from the issues discussed above, some cases may become more complicated than others. These situations may call for some specific legal matters which went unresolved in the primary methods. If your dispute requires filing a claim and appearing in court, a property lawyer will be indispensable. In such cases, you will also require valuable legal advice which only a lawyer can provide you.

Nevertheless, court proceedings are costly and inevitably long. So it is imperative for you to choose only experienced and reputed lawyers who will care about your case, listen to you patiently, investigate the matter thoroughly, and help you in every way to cut costs and save time.