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QLD Issues Post Property Settlement with Ex Owners / Tenants

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by takedo775, 5 May 2015.

  1. takedo775

    takedo775 Member

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    I was wondering if anyone could help me out on my situation with my previous tenants/owners.

    In 2013, I purchased an investment property in QLD. Between the time from signing the contract and property settlement, the sellers advised us that they'd like to stay on as tenants after settlement. As the owners had a fair amount of household rubbish on the property, I asked my property law solicitors to insert a condition into the purchase contract:

    4. Removal of Belongings and Rubbish
    (a) The Seller must remove all belongings and rubbish in the yard and
    under the house before the date that the Seller vacates the property
    ("vacation date").

    (b) At settlement, a cheque must be drawn out of the settlement proceeds
    in the sum of $2,000.00 ("the agreed sum") payable to the Seller's
    solicitor's trust account, and the agreed sum must be held in the Seller's
    solicitor's trust account until the vacation date.

    (c) If the Seller has removed all belongings and rubbish in the yard and
    under the house on the vacation date, the Buyer must authorise the release
    of the agreed sum to the Seller.

    (d) If the Seller has not removed all belongings and rubbish in the yard
    and under the house on the vacation date, the Seller must authorise the
    release of the agreed sum to the Buyer.

    In December 2014, the ex owners/tenants decided that they would move out. The vacation date was on 15 December. On the exit inspection, my property informed me that the tenants had not removed their belonging and rubbish in the yard. We tried to contact the tenants and allowed them 2-3 days to come back to clean out their rubbish to which they did not reply. I contact my solicitors and they advised me to go ahead with the clean up of the yard and they would chase up the agreed sum of $2000 from their solicitors. I went ahead and hired a professional rubbish remover which costed me $1278 in January 2015. My solicitors then forwarded the invoice to the sellers solicitors demanding release of monies from the trust account.

    There was no reply from their end for a good month. Their solicitors stating that they weren't having any luck contacting their client. A further month passed and numerous letters/faxes were sent to them. Finally their solicitors sent out a letter stating that their client denied any rubbish was left and that they had seen on the vacation date prior to handing the keys back to the property manager, I was there with tradespeople attending to renovations implying that the rubbish was from that. I was then required to chase up my property manager for evidence of the rubbish that was left on my property upon vacation + statements that their claims of me being there renovating was false as I had no keys or access to my house, which then was forwarded to the sellers solicitor along with a letter of demand stating that they had a week (14 April) to release the monies or a Magistrates court claim would be filed. The sellers finally sent back a cheque for the amount of $1278 on 17 April. I advised my solicitors that I was chasing the full amount of $2000 which they owed me especially after the ordeal that I went through + legal costs in pursuing this matter. They now again seem to be refusing to reply to my requests and now my solicitors have warned me to pursue it through the Magistrate courst, legal costs will exceed $2000 and most likely I will be required to pay my own legal costs.

    What I can do from now on? Obviously I am hesitant to go to court due to further legal costs. I know some might suggest that why I did not just take the cheque of $1278 but I felt on a matter of principle that the $2000 is owed to me and particularly with their non-cooperation and false statements, I wanted to chase them for the full sum owing.

    Sorry for the long post. Many thanks
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    DIY.

    Preparing a case is not that hard when you have all the available facts to support your case. You just need time. Nearly always a trade off between time and money.

    Though do be prepared that if you lose the case, you may be forced to pay their costs.
     
  3. takedo775

    takedo775 Member

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    I have thought about lodging a claim through QCAT... But I was wondering based on my statements, would the case be in my favour?
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Your statements are only one side of the case.

    1. Without seeing the arguments from the other side it is not possible to give an opinion.
    2. No-one can give a 100% guarantee you'll win at court/QCAT anyway. (well I suppose they can, but the guarantee is worthless :( think you'll understand my meaning)

    QCAT has advantages - less formal, simpler, no lawyers. Disadvantage - can't recover your costs/filing fees. Check though that they handle contract disputes.

    BTW, advise the other party's solicitors they are holding the money on trust and it is NOT to be released to the seller unless the current dispute is resolved in the seller's favour.
     
  5. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    FYI, if solicitors abuse the trust account and money they hold on trust they can lose their ability to practice law. Quite a powerful incentive for them to do the right thing :)
     
  6. takedo775

    takedo775 Member

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    Thanks for your reply.

    With my statement, I've tried to provide the accounts on what's happened and to be as objective as possible.
     

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