(02) 9371 7243

Rose Bay

Strata Disputes

Posted by on Feb 8, 2018 in Articles, Conveyancing Articles, Lease Articles, Litigation Articles, Strata Matters & Dispute Articles |

For those of you who live in a strata unit (and it appears that more and more of us will be in the future if the NSW Government has its way) one of the most common issues that arises is excessive noise made by neighbours. So, what do you do if you’ve spoken to the offending neighbour and you just can’t resolve the matter? The first thing to note is that section 153(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 prohibits the owner, tenant or occupier of a lot from using or permitting the lot to be used in a manner that causes a nuisance. This provides a legal basis for the noise complaint. The steps to be taken (and this applies to most strata disputes) are as follows: (a)     Send a letter of demand to the neighbour precisely setting out the terms of the noise complaint and what the neighbour should do to alleviate the problem, such as placing carpet on floorboards,within a certain time frame e.g. 14 days; (b)    If the letter of demand is not complied with then an application for mediation should be lodged with NSW Fair Trading. The mediation will take place within a few weeks and it involves a structured negotiation process with an independent mediator who assists the parties to achieve a resolution of the problem. From experience, this has about an 80% success rate; and (c)   If the mediation fails or the other party refuses to take part then an application to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal can be made seeking appropriate orders against the other party. The Tribunal is intended  to be a low cost and efficient forum for dealing with disputes. The hearing will take place within a few months of the application....

Read More

Do You Need More Than A Will? – Other Things To Consider

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Articles, Conveyancing Articles, Wills & Deceased Estates Articles |

Most people understand the importance of a Will i.e. it is a document by which a person disposes of their assets after their death. But the crucial thing to remember is that a Will only operates from the date of one’s death. What will happen to your assets in a situation where you are still alive but due to an accident or some other reason you are not of sufficient mental capacity to manage your own affairs? And in such a case who will make necessary decisions about your medical treatment or where you are to live? That is why it is well worth considering two other valuable documents that more and more people these days are entering into at the same time as their Will being an Enduring Power of Attorney and an Appointment of Enduring Guardian. Put simply, the presence of all three documents means that all your affairs will be taken care of both before and after your death. Let us take a closer look at the other two documents: Enduring Power of Attorney Some of the features of this document are: (a) It appoints someone (an attorney) to have authority to make decisions about your property and financial affairs; (b) It does not authorise anyone to make decisions concerning your lifestyle, health or personal affairs; (c) It will still be valid even if you lose mental capacity provided a prescribed person, such as a lawyer, explains the document to you and signs a certificate to that effect; (d) It will operate until you cancel it, the attorney no longer wishes to act or you die; (e) Before an attorney can use the document he or she has to accept it meaning they must sign it; and (f) In order to allow the attorney to deal with land owned by you the Enduring Power of Attorney has to be registered at Land & Property Information which involves a registration fee. Appointment of Enduring Guardian Some of the features of this document are: (a) It appoints someone (an enduring guardian) to make personal, lifestyle or health decisions on your behalf when you are not capable of doing so yourself; (b) The enduring guardian can make decisions such as where you live, what services are provided to you and what medical treatment you receive; (c) It only comes into effect when you lose mental capacity and is effective only during the period of such incapacity. Therefore, although it may never become operational it makes sense to plan for unforeseen events; (d) It must be witnessed by a prescribed person such as a lawyer who must explain the document to you and sign a certificate to that effect; (e)...

Read More

Surrender of Retail and Commercial Leases

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Articles, Business Sale & Purchase Articles, Commercial Agreement & Dispute Articles, Conveyancing Articles, Lease Articles |

When a landlord and a tenant both agree to terminate a lease before its expiry date this is called a surrender of Lease. A lease creates an interest in land in favour of the tenant and constitutes a contract between the landlord and the tenant. A surrender terminates both the tenant’s interest in the land and the contract. The process of the surrender should be regulated by a Deed of Surrender so that the rights and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant are clearly set out to ensure no disputes can arise at a later time. Also, if the Lease is registered, section 54 of the Real Property Act requires a Surrender of Lease form to be executed by the parties and upon registration the land will revest in the landlord. As a preliminary point, the parties should determine who will meet the legal costs relating to and arising out the surrender of the lease. The process for a typical surrender of lease will be as follows: 1. A Deed of Surrender of Lease has to be prepared covering numerous issues including: (a) The date of surrender i.e. the date the tenant will vacate the premises; (b) Payment of rent and outgoings up to the date of surrender; (c) Making good the premises by the surrender date .i.e. the tenant having to return the premises to the same condition they were in at the start of the lease; (d) Release of the landlord, tenant and any guarantors from liability from the date of surrender; (e) The return of any bank guarantee or security deposit to the tenant; (f) The liability of either the landlord or tenant or both for the legal costs and stamp duty relating to or arising out of the surrender of lease; (g) The preparation of the Surrender of Lease form to be registered at Land & Property Information (“LPI”); and (h) Any payment by one party to the other in return for the surrender. 2. The solicitor for the tenant will have to review the Deed and may wish to make amendments to which will have to be negotiated; 3. Once the Deed is finalised, the parties will have to sign it and exchange it so it can come into effect; 4. The tenant will have to make good the premises before the surrender date to the satisfaction of the landlord; 5. The parties will have to execute the Surrender of Lease form; 6. A letter will need to be sent to any mortgagee requesting it to produce the Certificate of Title at the LPI; 7. Once the Certificate of Title has been produced at the LPI, the Surrender form can be lodged...

Read More

A Guide to the New Strata Renewal Process

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Articles, Conveyancing Articles, Strata Matters & Dispute Articles |

As from 30 November 2016 a new procedure has been introduced allowing for a strata renewal (i.e. either the collective sale of the whole strata scheme or the redevelopment of the whole strata scheme such that its termination and replacement by a further strata scheme is necessary) with the support of at least 75% of the lot owners. It is governed by Part 10 of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015 (“SSD Act”) and the Strata Schemes Development Regulation 2016 (SSD Reg.”) and must be strictly adhered to avoid challenges by dissenting owners or rejection by the Court. Here are the important steps in the process: 1. Opting in to Process The process automatically applies only to strata schemes which commenced from 30 November 2016. For strata schemes already in existence before that date the owners have to agree to the new process applying by a vote in favour by more than 50% of the lot owners in a general meeting. 2. Consideration of Proposal To initiate the process a written strata renewal proposal (“proposal”), complying with Regulation 30 of the SSD Reg., must be submitted to the owners corporation for consideration by the strata committee. If the strata committee decides that the proposal warrants further consideration by the owners corporation it must convene a general meeting of the owners corporation to allow it to do so. 3. Appointment of Strata Renewal Committee If a majority of lot owners decide that the proposal warrants investigation by a strata renewal committee, the owners corporation must vote to establish a strata renewal committee to prepare a strata renewal plan and elect its members. 4. Functions of Strata Renewal Committee Once established, the strata renewal committee has up to one year to prepare a strata renewal plan, containing the information required by section 170 of the SSD Act and Regulation 33 of the SSD Reg. relating to the proposal for consideration by the owners corporation. Such information can be prepared with the assistance of valuers and lawyers and must include the market value of the strata complex and the proposed compensation payments to lot owners. 5. Consideration of Strata Renewal Plan Once the strata renewal plan has been prepared, a general meeting of the owners corporation must be convened to allow owners to consider the plan. Apart from provisions allowing for amendments of the plan, in order for the matter to progress at least 75% of lot owners at the general meeting must vote in favour of giving the plan to the owners for their consideration for at least 60 days during which they can get independent advice on the plan. 6. Approval of the Strata Renewal Plan Provided at least 75%...

Read More

Resolving Home Building Disputes

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in Articles, Building Dispute Articles, Conveyancing Articles, Litigation Articles |

When you are building or renovating your home and a dispute arises between you and your builder then you should take the following steps: 1. Speak to the builder and try to come to a resolution through open and positive communication; 2. If that fails then check your building contract to see if there is a dispute resolution clause that requires certain procedures to be followed. For example, clause 27 of the NSW Fair Trading Home Building Contract for work over $20,000.00 requires one party to give the other prompt written notice of the dispute. However, it then provides that, if the dispute is not resolved informally, the parties “may” confer with a mediator or expert to assist; 3. If the dispute remains unresolved then, provided there are no other mandatory procedures to be followed under the building contract, you can contact NSW Fair Trading to assist with regard to major defects within the 6 year statutory warranty period and minor defects within the 2 year statutory warranty period; 4. NSW Fair Trading will attempt to negotiate a satisfactory outcome between the builder and yourself. If that fails then a Fair Trading Building Inspector will be sent on-site to inspect the work in dispute. If appropriate, he will issue a Rectification Order which will set a date by which work is to be rectified or completed; and 5. If you are not satisfied with the Rectification Order or if it is not complied with then you may lodge a claim with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“NCAT”) which can hear matters up to the value of $500,000.00. For matters over this figure you would have to make a claim with a Court. February...

Read More

Agreement for Sale of Land by Communications

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 in Articles, Conveyancing Articles |

Sometimes the question arises whether a contract for the sale of land has been formed between parties even before they have entered into a formal contract through means such as communications. Section 54A of the Conveyancing Act NSW prohibits an action being brought upon any contract for the sale of land unless the relevant agreement or some memorandum or note is in writing and signed by the party against whom the claim is made. A memorandum or note may include letters and e-mails provided they are evidence of a concluded agreement containing its essential terms being the parties, the property and the consideration (purchase price). In a recent case in the NSW Supreme Court (Hill v Newth [2014] NSWSC 298) it was recognized that in NSW real estate is normally sold by the signing and exchanging of the standard form Law Society and Real Estate Institute contract. Stevenson J stated that although it is possible for a contract to come into existence other than by exchange of this standard form contract, there would need to be clear evidence that the normal practice was not to apply. What this decision means is that, in effect, there is a presumption in NSW that parties to a transaction to purchase real estate intend to use the usual method of exchanging contracts to enter into a binding agreement and communications between them prior to such exchange cannot be used to support a claim by one party against the other unless there is clear evidence that the parties intended to exclude the usual practice.    ...

Read More