Claiming an equitable interest in the property
Our clients denied that the father was entitled to judgment on the basis of an oral agreement they reached with the father in 1996 that the property would be transferred to them in exchange for them caring for the father and renovating and maintaining the property.
The father denied ever entering into any agreement to transfer the property to our clients and argued that he was simply offering them free accommodation whilst they saved for a home of their own. The father claimed that the property was in a habitable living condition in 1996, and did not require renovations. He also claimed that any repairs or renovations that had been undertaken from 1996 were at his own expense. The father also denied the existence of an agreement made in 1996, whereby he agreed to be cared for by our clients.
Our clients cross-claimed against the father and argued that, pursuant to the oral agreement reached with the father in 1996, the property would be transferred to them in exchange for them caring for the father and renovating and maintaining the property. Our clients claimed that they performed a number of renovations to the property, and paid for the care of the father for a number of years. Having made many improvements to the property since 1996, our clients also claimed an equitable interest in the property and sought that the property be transferred to them.
Virtual Hearing in the Supreme Court of NSW during COVID-19
The matter was listed for a 5 day virtual hearing in the Supreme Court of NSW in late April 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, 13 witnesses were to give evidence by video on Microsoft Teams. During the course of the hearing, the parties reached a settlement of the matter. A major factor in reaching the settlement was us obtaining a late affidavit from the mother of our client who had resisted involving herself in the dispute until she was subpoenaed by the plaintiff, another of her children.. The mother's evidence confirmed the arrangement between our clients and the father that if our clients renovated and maintained the property, it would be transferred to them.
After three failed mediations and a vacated hearing in late 2018, our clients were pleased to achieve a good outcome and put this protracted and messy dispute behind them.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.