Have a property dispute? When to hire a litigation lawyer

Property disputes can happen between neighbours, between tenants and landlords, or even between buyers and sellers. You need a property disputes lawyer.

By John Christian – July 28, 2022
property keys with house keychain

Do not let property disputes take over your home 

Property disputes can take a variety of shapes, whether bad neighbours affect your home or you encounter issues with a landlord as a tenant. They can make things unpleasant for you in your home. Therefore, it is essential to understand how to protect your rights. 

As property dispute lawyers in Brisbane, the Victor Legal team is committed to clarifying any element of the property law. Indeed, as property law in Brisbane and across QLD is constantly evolving, we are here to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. 

Below we explain what different types of disputes regarding properties may arise and how you can resolve them. We also help you understand when it is time to involve a lawyer to protect your rights. 

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Real estate disputes 

Real estate disputes refer to legal conflicts that can arise when you buy or purchase real property, including a commercial building on a piece of land or even the piece of land itself. 

For example, disputes about real estate could occur in any of the following scenarios:

#1. The property you purchase has serious issues which you discover after moving in. But these issues were concealed or not revealed by the seller before. 

#2. Elements that you expected to be in the property after purchase have been removed, such as specific fixtures or appliances. 

#3. The spotless property you visited is no more. The previous occupant left a messy and dirty place. 

#4. You buy the property with someone else, and you are uncertain about joint-ownership. 

So what are your options, and how can a property disputes lawyer help? 

When it’s time to hire a lawyer for property disputes

Your first step will be to check the paperwork. Regardless of the real estate dispute you face, the paperwork should provide guidance regarding the situation. 

For example, if the damage has occurred previously to the date of the sale, but the seller has chosen not to mention it, a lawyer can help you proceed to the repair at the seller’s costs or obtain compensation. If the damage occurred after the sale date and before you moved in, it is typically covered by insurance, and you can obtain compensation. 

Furniture or appliances that were there during the visit have disappeared. The contract should specify which fixture the seller has agreed to sell along with the property. If they are missing, the seller is legally obligated to provide them to you. You can work with a real estate dispute lawyer to either retrieve what was promised or obtain compensation. 

Unfortunately, a messy property is no topic for a legal dispute unless the contract states it should be delivered spotless. 

Regarding joint ownership, a property lawyer will help manage and resolve the issue in case of disagreement after purchase. 

Tree, fence, and neighbourhood disputes 

Property disagreements between neighbours can make it tricky to enjoy your home. Unfortunately, people can have conflicting habits, routines, or tastes which can lead to unpleasant situations. So, it may be difficult to figure out what is disagreement and real property dispute. 

We help you see it clear in these different cases:

#1. A tree on your neighbour’s property is reaching out onto your property or blocking your sunlight. You wish to cut it off. 

#2. A structural element that belongs to both properties, such as a fence or a path, needs repairing, and nobody wants to pay for it. 

#3. You need access to your neighbour’s property to fix something on your home.

#4. Your neighbour is building something on your property without your permission. 

What does the property law in Queensland say about these different issues? 

When do you need a lawyer for property disputes with neighbours?

In the event of property disputes between neighbours, there are many alternatives to protect your interests. 

If your neighbour’s tree affects your home, you can refer to the handy resolution guide provided by the Queensland Government. The first piece of advice is to communicate with your neighbours. They may not be aware of the situation and could be willing to sort it out. If your neighbour refuses to help or if there is nothing you can do, you can apply to the council to have branches removed or to QCAT to make a legally enforceable decision. Our lawyers can also help establish a negotiation and communication platform between you and your neighbour. 

Your paperwork will help address the other issues, as it will detail who is responsible for repairs on shared areas and show the limits of each property. You can involve a litigation lawyer if you notice that your neighbour does not comply with their responsibilities.

When it comes to access for maintenance purposes, the Property Law Act 1974 enables you to get a court order for access if your neighbours are uncooperative. Our property dispute lawyers in Brisbane can help you through the process, or even open a discussion path to prevent a court order.

Residential tenancy disputes

Residential tenancy disputes affect tenants and their landlords or landlady. They can reach from failure to provide maintenance to damage made to the property. 

When should you reach out to a lawyer? 

What the property dispute law says

The QCAT can help you resolve any disputes covered by the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, keeping things fair and inexpensive. However, if a dispute can’t be resolved through the QCAT, you will need a lawyer to protect and represent you. 

Body corporate disputes 

Many disputes occurring with strata or body corporate happen because people may not be aware of their responsibilities. Essentially, a dispute between neighbours becomes part of the body corporate law if the property owners or the individuals responsible for the cause of the dispute (such as a tree or a fence, for example) are members of the body corporate. 

When to engage a body corporate lawyer

There is plenty of self-resolution advice and guidance available from the Queensland Government to reduce cost and stress through issues. We always recommend considering these steps to sort it between you and the other party because you can make a formal dispute resolution application. The government provides a resolution system. 

However, if you feel that you can’t reach a conciliation or if there is confusion regarding rights and obligations with the body corporate, we strongly recommend reaching out to our strata dispute lawyers. 

In conclusion, property disputes can involve a variety of situations, such as overhanging branches reaching out on your property to a seller failing to meet their obligations. At Victor Legal, we always recommend communicating with the other party first to see if you can resolve it between yourself. But if the other party is not open to negotiation or discussion, our specialist property litigation lawyers are here to guide you on how to settle property disputes, protect your rights in a cost-effective and confidential manner. 

Article by John Christian, Principal Lawyer, Founder and Director of Victor Legal

John has extensive experience in complex civil and commercial dispute resolution and litigation matters, specialising in:

Building and construction disputes
Complex litigation
Contract drafting and review
Dispute Resolution
Commercial Law
Corporate insolvency
Securities and caveats
Debt collection
Contract disputes
Commercial and risk mitigation advice

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