How to avoid a dispute with the new neighbours!

How to avoid a dispute with the new neighbours!

We’ve all seen the good old neighbourhood stoush on A Current Affair over the tree roots or the fenceline…or plenty of other dramas. As a buyer of a property, there are several things you need to take into consideration – and information you need from the seller – before you have a reporter exposing you to the nation…

Top Gun Conveyancing advises you to be aware of anything problems related to trees and fences specifically, which the seller is required to tell you before you enter into a purchase contract.

Many of these will be related to issues raised with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal – otherwise known as QCAT – an independent tribunal that has the purpose of providing a quick, inexpensive resolution to disputes between neighbours. 

If there is an open case with QCAT, it could leave you as the buyer vulnerable – and not necessarily beginning the relationship with the new neighbours over a bottle of champagne and bikkies and cheese. Quite the opposite.

The onus is on the seller to advise you of any disputes between them and the neighbouring property owners – specifically:

  • Notices to fence from a neighbour
  • Any application to QCAT to resolve issues around fencing or trees
  • Any QCAT orders regarding fencing or trees that affect the property

Before you approach us at Top Gun Conveyancing, the seller must provide you with copies of any applications or issues before the contract stage. If not, you might be able to terminate at any time before the settlement regardless of any contract disclosures – the seller may also be liable for any expenses incurred after you’ve both signed the contract.

If you complete the purchase and not all works related to trees under a QCAT order have been disclosed to you, the seller will be liable to meet the conditions of that order at their expense.

BUT, if you do have that information disclosed to you before entering contract and you go ahead with your purchase, you can be obliged to reply to the QCAT application or complete the works specified.

With regards fences, the seller needs to declare there will be no unsatisfied fencing notices, applications or orders existing when you settle. If there are unsatisfied items related to fencing at settlement, you may be entitled to cancel the contract – or claim compensation from the seller.

They are also obliged to give you a copy of any notice, proceeding or order received after the contract date.

We recommend that you instruct our Top Gun Conveyancing team to have a search agent construct a physical search of the QCAT register – this is the only way (aside from seller declaration) that you will definitively know if any issues exist.

Conversely, through the Queensland ND Act (2011) if you feel as though the property you are looking to purchase is being encroached by trees from next door that may cause interference with your land – you can seek a QCAT order.

At the end of the day, as with anything, it is ‘buyer beware’. Take photographs of anything you think might be of issue in the future before getting too far down the line.

Also, ask the seller to be up-front with any QCAT issues – not only for your own peace of mind, but for the sake of neighbourhood harmony if nothing else!

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