As a Commercial Litigation firm, Armstrong Lawyers provides clients with specialist advice on a wide range of property disputes. We are dedicated to advocating our clients’ claims in any property related negotiation, mediation or litigation.
Legal Services for Property Disputes
Advice and assistance
Although proper preparation and care in property transactions can reduce the risk of potential disputes arising in the future, there will always be a risk that something will not happen as planned.
As an experienced commercial litigation firm, Armstrong Lawyers understands the issues involved in property disputes. Our specialist lawyers will strongly advocate and present your claims in respect of:
- lease or licence disputes for commercial, industrial, retail or office properties;
- sale or purchase of property;
- subdivisions and boundaries;
- Owners Corporation rights and obligations; and
- building or construction.
Owners Corporation Disputes
Resolving Conflicts in Owners Corporations
Conflict is often an inevitability of the internal workings of an owners corporation or strata community. The divergence of numerous interests and the presence of jointly used and enjoyed areas such, as easements, is regularly a source of animosity and litigation. Some cases are frivolous, while others require serious attention to correct harm or injustice.
Although we encourage the parties to resolve their disputes through negotiation, we understand that negotiation and polite conversation aren’t always possible or desirable in owners corporations or strata communities.
Disputes that may arise include:
- Disputes over common areas, such as easements or lobbies.
- Disputes between lot owners and the owners corporation, such as disputes regarding contributions to the owners corporation.
- Disputes between lot occupiers and owners corporations.
- Disputes between lot owners/owners corporations and developers.
- Disputes between lot owners.
- Cases involving injury or death suffered through negligent maintenance, repair or construction.
A common area of dispute affecting owner’s corporations is the construction of defective balconies, which can arise due to poor architectural design or through poor workmanship on the part of builders. Often this is caused by defective construction or the omission of waterproofing on balcony floors, resulting in complaints from occupants/owners located directly beneath the balcony.
The solicitors in our firm have substantial experience in acting in disputes involving defective balconies. In our experience, complaints relating to defective balconies may be settled initially via dispute resolution processes such as negotiation, mediation and conciliation. If unsuccessful, by issuing proceedings, such as:
- a Tortious action in negligence against the Architect to compensate for injury caused by defective design, or the Builder to compensate for injury caused by poor workmanship.
- an Application for an order for rectification of the defective balcony from the VCAT.
- an Application for order of completion of incomplete work from the VCAT.
- an Application for order in the nature of damages from the VCAT.
- an Application to the VCAT where a manager or committee of an owner’s corporation has breached their duty to repair and maintain common property, despite receiving the required notice.
For example, in the decision of Guney & Ors v CFM Property Group Pty Ltd  VCAT 514, the owner of an apartment was unhappy with the construction of a balcony because it had several leaks that affected the owner’s enjoyment of the property. The owner and the builder initially agreed to a settlement in mediation, which included an agreement that the builder correct the defects in his work in exchange for the owner’s promise to abstain from initiating proceedings at VCAT. However, the builder did not correct the defects in the time allowed in the agreement and the owner initiated proceedings. The Tribunal rejected the builders claim that he was unable to complete the work due to poor weather and awarded the owner damages to cover the costs of having the balcony fixed by another builder.
We Can Help
In the event that an owners corporation does become dysfunctional, it may be important to reaffirm the legal limitations that apply to the respective roles of the parties to the dispute. The powers of a lot owner differ from those of a manager or secretary, and the blurring of these roles can create animosity and confusion. At Armstrong Lawyers, our solicitors are experienced in restoring the status quo and helping the parties in an owners corporation better understand the legal boundaries of their roles.
Our solicitors are experienced at finding the source of liability and acting in the best interests of our clients to achieve positive outcomes. Please don’t hesitate to call if you have a query or problem that needs to be addressed to get your owners corporation back on solid ground.