It is so important when you purchase a property to ensure you engage professionals to do the appropriate due diligence on your behalf, as one Wodonga property owner discovered in the last week.
Imagine getting a letter in the mail telling you that you have 2 weeks to decide whether you demolish some structures on your property or purchase the land they are on from someone else, as you don't actually own the land they are on!!! This is exactly what happened.
A property owner in Wodonga had purchased a property back in the 90's some time and as a result of an audit by VICTRACK (owner of rail lank in Victoria) they discovered they actually had a title on this owners property and have contacted the owner to discuss it.
How can this happen?
Well the property is defined as an address and in this case the majority of the property is comprised of one parcel or title with a small piece being a second parcel or title. When the current owner bought the property, he actually only bought one of the parcel's or titles that comprise the property. The remaining small parcel/title was left in the ownership of VICTRACK.
I don't know who did the conveyancing on this purchase, but it certainly illustrates the necessity to ensure appropriate searches and investigations are done prior to any property transaction taking place.
You can see below the small sliver of land owned by VICTRACK and how it takes in part of the house and most of the garage on the property.
This property owner now has little choice but to try and negotiate a price with the actual owner of that portion of his property and given his house and most of the garage are actually on that title it's an essential acquisition.
At best it's an inconvenience for this owner, at worst it'll cost thousands to acquire the land he thought he already owned.
So always ensure when purchasing property you engage qualified professionals to undertake the necessary due diligence and searches to ensure the you actually buy what you think you are.
A due diligence service prior to acquisition for development is one of the services offered by Turning Point Property. Feel free to contact Jason@turningpointproperty.com.au if you'd like to enquire about how we can assist you.
UPDATE 25/7/2018: Today I spoke with a representative of the owner of this property who was concerned about this article, in particular the owner felt I was making an attack against them and suggesting they had done something wrong personally. That was certainly not the intent of this post, and I apologise unreservedly to the owner that they felt I was attacking them in some way, as I was not.
I certainly wasn't suggesting the owner had not done all they could in this case, as clearly I simply do not have that information. I was simply pointing out that unexpected things can happen with property (as has happened here) and that it's prudent to do what you can at the front end (as this owner did) to try and mitigate the risks of complications down the track and that this is doubly important in the development space where i work (which is not the case here).
The representative pointed out to me that the owner did engage a qualified and licenced conveyancer at the time of acquisition (as we all should) to ensure the transaction was conducted appropriately and made their best efforts to verify the property they were purchasing.
It sounds like the owner, in this case, has some documentation that may assist them reaching a swift resolution and I certainly hope that's the case for them, and I wish them all the best with resolving this matter with VICTRACK.