Property law is a complex area of law concerning the purchase, use, rent and sale of land. Property law concerns ‘real property’, that is, property that is fixed and not moveable (such as a vehicle or household appliance). In Australia, property ownership is governed by the Torrens System which is based on the premise that property ownership (‘title’) is granted by registration.
There are inevitably disputes that can arise from the property law system. Some of the most common property disputes involve easements, caveats and zoning disputes. Easements are an allowance for a non-owner of a property to use it for a specific purpose. Conversely, a caveat is a document which notes a person’s unregistered interest in a property.
Property disputes require a lawyer who has expertise in the legislation and common law rules that govern property law.
What’s a Property Dispute Lawyer?
Property dispute lawyers are experts in the resolution of disagreements between two parties in a variety of property matters. Disputes can be found in both commercial and residential property agreements, and may be disputes between a landlord and tenant, or between a buyer, seller and/or developer in a transaction. In some circumstances, these disputes can include government agencies, banks and neighbours.
Lawyers with expertise in dispute resolution can represent either of the parties involved in a property dispute matter. They are the primary negotiators and will consult with a client if the dispute ends up going to court.
What’s the difference between a Property Dispute Lawyer and a Conveyancing Lawyer?
A Property Dispute Lawyer has expertise in the area of disputes surrounding property ownership and use, whereas a Conveyancing Lawyer deals with the purchase and sale of properties. Although the two can overlap, such as if there is a dispute regarding a property settlement, they are still distinct areas of law.
Why do I need a Property Dispute Lawyer?
If you find yourself in a property dispute, a lawyer in this field will be able to help resolve the disagreement. They have expertise in resolving disagreements related to property contracts, property financing, council matters, bank acquisitions and tenants. Disagreements come in many different forms, some may be simple such as a dispute with a neighbour, others may require legal representation. In almost all property disputes a lawyer will be able to assist you and enhance your chances of a sound resolution.
How much will a Property Dispute Lawyer charge?
Hourly rates and Court fees
The cost of a property dispute lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small matters likely to be resolved quickly will cost less, this is because property disputes lawyers generally charge on an hourly basis. For matters that will need to go court or through an administrative appeals process, there are additional court and tribunal fees associated with doing this particularly as these disputes take time.
What can a lawyer legally charge?
Costs can rise very quickly in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014.
Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.
What if I don’t agree with the costs?
You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.