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Co-ownership and Joint Owner Disputes

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Our firm has over 30 years of experience in resolving co-ownership and joint owner disputes. These disputes often arise where 2 or more co-owners of a property (also referred to as "joint owners", "joint tenants" and "tenants in common") disagree about the rightful ownership of that property.

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Types of Disputes

The Courts have dealt with a variety of co-ownership and joint owner disputes, including:

  • A de-facto couple jointly purchased a house and were registered on the property title as tenants-in-common. The relationship later broke down and there was a dispute about the contributions made towards the property. In turn, this affected the portion of proceeds to which each was entitled upon the sale of the property.
  • A widower paid around $30,000 for extensions to a home that was jointly owned by their son and daughter-in-law. Although the extensions were made to provide permanent accommodation for him, the son’s relationship later broke down. The Court was required to determine if the widower was entitled to recover the monies he had contributed towards the family home.
  • A boyfriend made various contributions towards a property purchased by his girlfriend, including payment of part of the deposit and the payment of a number of mortgage installments. After their break-up, the boyfriend claimed the return of the monies he had contributed towards the girlfriend’s property.
  • Business partners operating an accountancy practice purchased a commercial unit (from where they operated their business). After the business relationship “soured”, disputes arose as to the respective rights of the partners. Two of the major questions concerned the use and occupation of the unit and the right to sell the property on the open market.
  • A father bought a house, promising to transfer it to his daughter if she spent money on the renovations of the house and also took care of it. The father later reneged on the agreement, so the daughter took legal action to claim an interest or an entitlement in the house.

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Our Services

The services we provide in this area include:

  • Seeking court orders on behalf of our clients to have their "beneficial" interest reflected on the title deed (to the extent of their rightful ownership)
  • Helping our clients to terminate their joint ownership of a property
  • Obtaining court orders to force a sale of jointly owned property
  • Preventing local authorities and banks from enforcing any debts or securities over the property that our clients have an interest in
  • Preventing other owners from decreasing the equity in a property co-owned by our clients
  • Helping our clients recover "occupation rent" from a co-owner who is living in a jointly owned property and excluding them from access.

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Rights and Duties as Joint Owners

Common rights and duties of co-owners and joint owners that often need to be determined, include:

  • The right of a co-owner to occupy the property
  • The duty of a co-owner to compensate other co-owners who have been wrongfully excluded from the jointly owned property
  • The right of a co-owner to rent the property to non-owners
  • The duty of a co-owner to not damage or allow a jointly owner property to deteriorate in condition
  • The right of a co-owner to claim contribution from the other co-owners for expenses incurred or improvements made to the property
  • The duty of the co-owner to account to the other co-owners for any profits or other benefits they have obtained
  • The right of a co-owner to sell the property on the open market in certain circumstances.

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Contact Us

To discuss a co-ownership or joint owner dispute enquiry with one of our solicitors, please contact our firm on (08) 9221 8337 or enquiry@irwinlegal.com.au.