Contract disputes can arise for a number of reasons but generally, they would arise from a breach of contract or a difference in the interpretation of a contract.
In this instance, a party may be seeking to have the breach rectified, may be seeking to enforce a contractual right, recover money owed under a contract or terminate the agreement, or issues surrounding interpretation of the contract.
Evidently, the first step is to review the contract. Although this does not mean that the dispute is necessarily confined to the scope of the contract. The dispute may raise other issues and causes of action such as negligence, misrepresentation, misleading or deceptive conduct.
If you are having a dispute over a contract, our experienced business and commercial lawyers in Sydney can help.
A common scenario of property disputes is between co-owners of a property.
If a client comes to us and wants to purchase a property with a co-owner such as a family member, friend or perhaps a de facto, as tenants in common, we recommend that the co-owners prior to purchasing the property, enter into a comprehensive co-ownership agreement.
This agreement should set out the rights and responsibilities of the co-owners, such their respective contributions to utilities, rates, levies, taxes, mortgage repayments. Further, the agreement should consider and make provision for:
- What ownership or interest each party will acquire (equal 50/50 split, or 45/55 etc.), including what their responsibilities are towards the outgoings and mortgage repayments for the property;
- Who is intended or permitted to occupy the property, or whether it would be leased;
- If leased, how the property will be leased. Whether weekly or for a specific term or on an ad-hoc basis (on AirBnB);
- Whether it will be sold or leased through an agent or privately, and if an agent, which agent;
- A mechanism for a co-owner to buy out their interest in the property of the other co-owner if somebody wants to sell;
- What is to occur if one owner wants to sell and the other doesn’t, including how the market value of the property will be determined; and
- How the net proceeds of the sale are to be distributed amongst the parties.
Entering into an agreement such as this can be met with some resistance from some clients given most people would only purchase a property with a co-owner if they had a close and good relationship and therefore the agreement seems unnecessary.
In our experience, we have seen very close relationships between family members, best friends or de facto couples breakdown (which is not uncommon), where a co-ownership agreement would have been a useful and easy way to obtain guidance on how to resolve the dispute and potentially salvage the relationship.
If one co-owner wishes to sell and the other does not and the co-owners cannot reach some kind of agreement amongst themselves, the co-owner who wishes to sell can apply to the Supreme Court of NSW to have a trustee appointed to sell the property under section 66G of the Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW). However, Trustees fees can be exorbitant and the costs and fees involved are not in the interests of either party.
For more information on disputes between co-owners of property, click here.
To speak with one of our lawyers who are ready to assist you with your legal dispute contact Rockliffs today!