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Building demolished without consent

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by Xjas, 19th Mar, 2016.

  1. Xjas

    Xjas Active Member

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    Not really sure where to start with this, it a pretty long tragic story, I'll try to keep the details to whats relevant.

    2 family members have been going through a divorce.
    The male retained their PPOR, the woman recieved proceed from the sale an IP, all their cash and is still owed 80k so she is still on the deed for the PPOR, divorce was around 12 month ago, male has been making it difficult for her to get the money as it would require him to sell the PPOR.

    Due to mental health issues a on Tuesday night he made a very poor decision and set fire to the house, it was extensivly damaged. He is currenty in custody and thankfully ok, and none else was hurt.
    The house was built on sloping block but was one level with a brick footings and piers.


    Thurday the woman was in contact with the local council and was informed that she had 28 days to arrange demolition of the house.
    She contacted the builder who orginally built the house as she was considering the best way forward financially would be to rebuild the house from the sub floor up and sell it. At this stage they are assuming no insurance, the woman doesnt even know if the house was insured.
    There is no family living in the area, we all live 800km away so we were unable to inspect the house in person, the woman is going down Monday to try and sort thing out.

    On Friday the builder went to have a look at the house and contacted the woman to see if she was aware the house was being demolished- she wasnt.
    She contacted the council and the council told her that had assessed the building and it was unsafe and they had decided to demolish it as it was posing a risk to surrounding properties. They had apparently sent an e-mail stating their intensions to the male (who is still in custody) but had not contacted anyone by phone.

    Council has apprently gone into the house and collected any remaing personal effect and put them in storage, pretty much just a camp trailer and garden tools that were under the house, which I find odd that they declared the house to be a risk of collapes but then went in to collect items.

    Photos I recieved of the block last night confirmed that the demolisher has completely demolished everything on the site, all the footing, the slab the garge was on, and all the landscaping around the house, everything. Also according to council the demolisher has the right to keep everthing from the demolision which includes a few hardwood beams from the rear section of the house that weren't damaged which were apparently worth around 2k each, a large water tank from under the house, all the large boulders from the landscaping etc.

    I guess what I would like an opinion on here is has the council or the demolisher overstepped their bounds, from the photos I have seen it appear the house could have been rebuilt from the subfloor up but that is not possible now, replacing the house will cost considerably more.
     
  2. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    Ask the council under what authority they have demolished the house. They cannot just go around knocking down houses, but there is probably legislation which allows them to do this where the house is an immediate danger. Also probably legislation that allows the demolisher to take materials in lieu of payment.

    Your woman friend won't have insurance because it was a deliberate act by the owner to burn down the house. She would have to sue the bloke, who probably has no other assets...
     
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  3. Simon Moore

    Simon Moore Mortgage Broker - Melbourne Business Member

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    That is an awful situation, I'm really sorry for your friend :(

    Start off with I'm not a lawyer, this is just from my experience. I don't think the house being demolished effects your friend. In the family law settlement her ex-partner got the PPOR, and he has to pay your friend $80k (plus the IPs), correct? Because he had burnt the house down it does not effect the fact that he still owes her the $80k.

    Depending on her ex's net asset position now the house is burnt down, but worst case scenario for your friend, is her ex declares bankruptcy. I'm not sure where family law settlements fall in creditor priority, but I would guess after the mortgage and before unsecured debt, so If the mortgage is $80k less then the land value my guess would be that your friend would still get her $80k.

    As for weather the demolition was legal, absolutely no idea unfortunately.
     
    Last edited: 19th Mar, 2016
  4. Xjas

    Xjas Active Member

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    Thanks Terry, Thats basically what I was thinking, I wasnt sure about the insurance with regards to the mans supposed impared metal capacity at the time but we are assuming no insurance.

    It wasn't really that they demolished the house, I figured they had that right if it was a danger but more that they went well beyond what was required to make the site safe. There was (I'm told) 15k worth of rock wall landscaping in the yard behind the house which has been removed.
     
  5. Xjas

    Xjas Active Member

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    Hi Simon, the house was owned outright, no mortage so at this stage we'r'e basically thinking the woman will arrange sale of the block with the males consent, worth around 100-120K we think, after sale costs and demolitions she may get her 80k and he will be left with nothing. Very unfortunate situation as they are both still our family so having him end up with nothing is not a great result either.

    Mental heath issues suck!!
     
  6. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    If the house was unsafe why were retaining walls demolished, which then poses another risk (& costs).

    What was the wall retaining? (Neighbour's property?) Is the removal going to cause future damage?
     
  7. Xjas

    Xjas Active Member

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    I stand corrected, I had been misinformed. Got new photos from the block this morning and the rock retaining wall remains, that and the driveway is all that remains.
     
  8. mrdobalina

    mrdobalina Well-Known Member

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    On Thursday she was in contact with the local council who told her she had 28 days to demolish the property, but by Friday council had already arranged the demolition and it had been done? I'm surprised anybody can work that fast - council and demolition company.

    There was a half built house in Peppermint Grove in Perth. It took council 2 years to get the authority to demolish the house.
     
  9. Coota9

    Coota9 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Well who knew local councils could actually move this fast & efficiently...if only they could move this fast with approving DAs!!
     
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  10. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    If the house was unencumbered she could recover her less from the share of the husband.
     
  11. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    @Coota9 - statutory timeframes for public notification, review of comments, report writing or recommendation to council meeing, scheduling onto next available meeting of building committee etc that they need to abide by don't help.