Jocelyn had contributed to $60, 000 to the purchase of a house with her daughter and son-in-law who lived in Sydney. They all agreed that Jocelyn would live in the house, pay rent and contribute to maintenance costs. However, the relationship began to sour when her daughter and son-in-law began adding to the list of things Jocelyn was expected to pay for. Jocelyn feared she would be kicked out of the house and lose the money she’d invested. Her stress relating to the situation spiked when her daughter and son-in-law advised that they were moving to Brisbane and into the house, along with Jocelyn’s ex-husband, who had perpetrated domestic violence against Jocelyn in the past.
When a person pays money for renovations, building a granny flat or towards the purchase of a property, a legal interest in the property may develop. When things go wrong, this sort of interest can be very difficult to prove. If it can be proved, this interest can sometimes mean that the person who has paid the money will be entitled to a share of the property. For Jocelyn, her interest would have been more effectively protected if she had her name on the title of the property when the house was purchased. Once disagreements start it can be much more difficult. Because Jocelyn was not a registered owner, she needed to see a lawyer in order to achieve a fair outcome.
Following the news of the extended family and ex-husband’s plans to move in, Jocelyn was increasingly agitated and distressed and wanted to leave the property, and also needed to get her money back. The daughter and son-in-law offered to pay Jocelyn a little over half of what she had originally contributed but Jocelyn did not accept this offer which she felt was unfair.
Caxton Legal Centre’s lawyer negotiated with the other side who eventually agreed to repay Jocelyn $52, 000 out of the $60, 000 she had originally contributed – a much fairer outcome. Caxton’s social worker provided counselling to assist Jocelyn to deal with the anxiety she experienced throughout this period.
Jocelyn was extremely happy with the agreement that was reached in the end. She moved into a rental unit and immediately felt less anxious and stressed. Jocelyn thanked the Seniors Legal and Support Service and said she would like to donate to Caxton Legal Centre to acknowledge our support and assistance.