Property disputes between joint tenants can be complicated and stressful. In New South Wales, the Real Property Act governs the rights and obligations of joint tenants, and provides a framework for resolving disputes.
In this article, we will discuss the common causes of property disputes between joint tenants, the relevant laws and procedures under the Real Property Act, and how to protect your interests in the event of a dispute.
Common causes of property disputes between joint tenants
There are several reasons why joint tenants may become embroiled in a property dispute. These include:
Disagreements over use of the property:
Joint tenants may have different ideas about how the property should be used or maintained. For example, one tenant may want to sell the property, while the other wants to keep it as a rental investment.
Financial issues: Joint tenants may disagree on how to finance the property, such as who should pay for repairs or renovations.
Changes in circumstances:
Joint tenants may experience changes in their personal circumstances, such as divorce or financial hardship, which can impact their ability to contribute to the property.
The Real Property Act and property disputes between joint tenants
Under the Real Property Act, joint tenants have equal ownership of the property and are entitled to equal shares of any income or profits generated by the property. If a dispute arises between joint tenants, there are several steps that can be taken to resolve the issue.
Negotiation: The first step is to attempt to negotiate a resolution with the other joint tenant. This can involve discussing the issue and reaching a compromise or agreement that is satisfactory to both parties.
Mediation: If negotiation fails, the next step is to engage in mediation with the assistance of a neutral third party. The mediator can help the parties identify their interests and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution.
Court action: If mediation fails, court action may be necessary. The Real Property Act provides for a range of court orders, including orders for partition or sale of the property, as well as orders for payment of compensation or damages.
How to protect your interests in a property dispute
If you are involved in a property dispute with a joint tenant, it is important to take steps to protect your interests. These include:
Documenting your ownership:
Keep records of your ownership of the property, including any financial contributions you have made towards its purchase or maintenance.
Communicate clearly and effectively with the other joint tenant, and keep records of any agreements or compromises reached.
Seeking legal advice:
Consult a lawyer who specializes in real property law to understand your rights and obligations under the Real Property Act and to obtain advice on the best course of action in your particular situation.
In conclusion, property disputes between joint tenants can be complex and emotionally charged. Understanding your rights and obligations under the Real Property Act, and taking steps to protect your interests, can help to resolve disputes and prevent further conflict. By understanding your rights and responsibilities under NSW laws and seeking professional help, when necessary, you can ensure that the process of administering your property is fair, effective, and legally binding.