The owner of a property succeeds in obtaining an order for possession against a claimant who alleged an unwritten sale agreement …
In 1998 Mrs Marguerita Strauss (“Mrs Strauss”) purchased a one tenth share of a property in Mullumbimby in NSW for $67,000. By agreement between all of the owners Mrs Strauss occupied site 4.
Lara Strauss, the daughter of Mrs Strauss, lived on the property between January 1999 and June 2014 and between mid 1999 and February 2005. Mr Ian Bennett (who at that time was Lara’s husband) (“Mr Bennett”) also lived on the property.
When Lara moved out of the property in June 2014 Mr Bennett moved back in.
Mrs Strauss started proceedings for the eviction of Mr Bennett in 2016. Mr Bennett claimed that:
• there was an unwritten agreement in June 2014 for the sale of the property to him; and
• in the alternative, that he is entitled to a proportion of the property because of the work that he did on the property while he was there.
As to the second claim, Mr Bennett argued that he made substantial improvements to the property as part of a joint endeavor between himself, Mrs Strauss and Lara, which endeavor ultimately failed. However, it was never intended that Mrs Strauss should retain the benefit of those improvements. He argued that he made the contributions because of an expectation that he owned the property with Lara at the time or would in the future.
Mr Bennett gave evidence that Ms Strauss led Lara and himself to believe that the property was theirs. Mrs Strauss denied Mr Bennett’s statements and in fact gave evidence that for a period Lara paid rent to reside on the property.
As to the agreement for the sale to Mr Bennett, a lot of evidence was before the court and it was clear that initially, it would have suited Lara to see the property sold to Mr Bennett. In July 2014, Mr Bennett paid $60,000 to Lara (for Mrs Strauss) as part of the purchase price. Lara gave half of this money to her new partner and half to Mrs Strauss.
The relationship between Lara and her new partner ended in September 2014. Mrs Strauss gave Lara the $30,000 she had received and asked her to return it to Mr Bennett. When Lara did that she told Mr Bennett that he could recover the balance of the $60,000 from her former partner.
The money that Mrs Strauss originally received was returned to her. She did however deny to Mr Bennett that they had a deal for the sale of the property and took steps to evict him.
In the Supreme Court of NSW, Justice R Darke rejected the argument of Mr Bennett that the property was for Lara and himself. He also found that the building works carried out by Mr Bennett were largely paid for by Mrs Strauss and her husband.
His Honour accepted that Mr Bennett did landscaping work and contributed some of his own money to the improvement of the property. However, His Honour rejected that these contributions were part of a joint endeavour with Mrs Strauss and Lara on the expectation that he owned the property with Lara.
As to the agreement that Ian alleged for the sale of the property. Mrs Strauss was not a party to the conversations that Ian relied on. Mr Bennett said that Lara had told him that Lara was speaking for her mother, however, Lara denied this. His Honour accepted the evidence of Mrs Strauss that she did not know the value of the property and wanted to think about Mr Bennett’s proposal to buy the property for $240,000.
Ultimately, His Honour’s conclusion was that no agreement was reached between Mrs Strauss and Ian.
Mrs Strauss was however ordered to pay back to Ian the $60,000 plus interest that he paid.
Mr Bennett was ordered to pay damages to Mrs Strauss for lost rent for the period 6 November 2014 until the time he vacated.
An order for possession of the property was made in favour of Mrs Strauss.
COVID-19 and Federal Government assistance for small business …
From 1 January 2021 small business practitioners will be able to assist corporate business owners restructure their debts in the hope that they will survive the difficulties that arose for them during the global pandemic. The business owners will continue to run the business while the plan that has been developed with the help of the small business practitioner is put into place.
If the plan fails, less expensive and more stream lined procedures are available to appoint a liquidator and wind up the business.
To be eligible the business must be incorporated with liabilities of less that $1 million.
For the simplified liquidation all lodgement must be up to date.
To enter the restructure program, all employee entitlements that are due must be paid and tax lodgement up to date.