Co-ownership property disputes in NSW or joint owner disputes arise between parties who jointly own certain property. The joint ownership arrangement may either be in the for of tenants in common, or joint tenants.
Jointly owned property or co-owned property includes owning property with someone you were in a relationship with, or property that you purchased with family members and relatives, or if you jointly inherited family property.
In this blog, we will explore important points in relation to co-ownership property disputes. We will also look at the meaning of joint tenants, and tenants in common.
Co-owners who are involved in a dispute should seek legal advice and explore alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation or arbitration, to reach a fair and equitable resolution. In some cases, the appointment of a statutory trustee or the intervention of a court may be necessary to resolve the dispute. Read on below to know about a statutory trustee.
Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common
Before we discuss the topic of co-ownership property disputes, it is important to first understand the different between tenants in common and joint tenants.
Tenants in common: In this joint ownership arrangement, two or more people co-own the same property but with no right of survivorship to the other. Right of survivorship means that if one owner dies, the other owner/s would automatically absorb the share of the deceased owner.
In tenants in common or tenancy in common, there is no such right of survivorship. Moreover, you do not have to be equal shareholders under this co-ownership arrangement. It depends on you and the other parties on how you decide to split the shares.
For example, in such an arrangement, you may own 80% of the shares, while the other party owns 20% of the shares. This arrangement is common between investors who are buying property together, and parties (with adult children) entering second marriages.
Joint tenants: Unlike tenancy in common, under the joint tenants agreement, you and the other party must own equal shares of the property. Moreover, there is also a right of survivorship in the case of joint tenants.
It is possible that the surviving joint tenant will receive the deceased person’s property shares, regardless of what the deceased person has stated in their Will. Joint tenants arrangement is common between married couples and couples who are in a long-term relationship.
Types of Co-ownership Property Disputes NSW
Typically, a change in circumstance is what leads to co-ownership property disputes. For instance, if a relationship or a business breaks down, parties may face these disputes.
Moreover, financial struggles or death of a partner can also cause property disputes. Sometimes parties may have an argument over something like interests from the property. These arguments could ultimately lead to more serious co-ownership property disputes.
Given below are some common types of co-ownership property disputes that arise in NSW:
1. Partition or Sale Disputes
This may happen when one owner wishes to sell the property but the other co-owner/s do not agree. Depending on the circumstances, the co-owner who is seeking to sell the property may apply to the court to force a sale.
2. Breach or Trust or Fiduciary Duty:
Co-owners have a duty to act in the best interests of each other and the property. If one co-owner breaches this duty, for example, by selling the property without the consent of the other co-owners, the other co-owners may take legal action.
3. Disputes over Use and Maintenance of Property:
There may be a disagreement between co-owners on how they should use or maintain the property. For example, they may dispute over repairs, improvements or renovations. To resolve such disputes, parties should consider attending mediation.
4. Property Expenses Related Disagreements:
Co-owners may argue over property expenses. Property expenses include property taxes or insurance. If one co-owner is paying more than their fair share of expenses, it can lead to disputes.
5. Disagreements over Rental Income:
Co-owners may disagree on how rental income from the property should be divided. This can include disputes over how much rent should be charged or how the rental income should be distributed.
Disputes Related to Sale of Property
Section 66G of the NSW Conveyancing Act (1919) states that parties can make an application to the Supreme Court for the appointment of a statutory trustee.
The court may appoint a statutory trustee to manage and administer the disputed property on behalf of the co-owners. The court can appoint the trustee under the authority of a statute that sets out the trustee’s powers, responsibilities and duties.
Statutory trustees prove beneficial especially in instances where co-owners cannot agree on how to manage or dispose of the property. They can sell the property and distribute the proceeds from the sale in accordance to the relevant court order or statute.
If the dispute does not resolve, the statutory trustee will also have responsibility for collecting rent and paying expenses for the property, and managing the property by making repairs.
You must note that appointing a statutory trustee is very costly and may not always be necessary to resolve a co-ownership dispute. Generally these third-parties are appointed so that the interests of all involved co-owners are protected.
Seeking Advice From Solicitors
Whether you are facing co-ownership property disputes in NSW with your former partner, or with your relative, it is necessary to seek legal advice from solicitors. At JB Solicitors, we have a team of lawyers who are experienced in property law, and handling and resolving such disputes.
More importantly, we offer dispute resolution legal services so that parties can reach agreeable settlements without involving the court. Court processes are always lengthy, complex and costly. Therefore, it is best to avoid court proceedings as best as possible.
To do so, you will need the professional guidance from leading solicitors. You may also require help in purchasing property with business partners or others.
Contact our family and property lawyers for all such disputes.