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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 22969
Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I purchased a house in May 1991. My partner (now ex partner)

Customer Question

I purchased a house in May 1991.
My partner (now ex partner) & I lived there till December 1996.
Between 1991-1996, I did some work at the property to which my ex-partner contributed his labour.
I moved away in 1996. My now ex-partner remained in the property.
The mortgage was paid off in 2013 by ex partner has not made any financial contribution to the purchase of the house, nor the mortgage payments
Without my knowledge, my ex-partner lodged a caveat on this property in 1995.
My ex-partner paid me a nominal rent of $40/ fortnightly increasing to $150/fortnightly from 2004 till he moved out in 2015. During this period, there are many missing payments. He have never paid house insurance and rates.
This subsided rent was on the understanding he would maintain the property.
I give my ex-partner notice to leave in March 2015.
I have lived overseas since 1999 and have not been back to the house since 1998.
On gaining possession of the house this year, it has been inspected on my behalf.
There has been no maintenance done at the property since I left the place. It now requires substantial repairs & maintenance to even make it habitable.
Now I have received a letter from his solicitor stating that my ex-partner now wants to be paid 50% of his share in the house.
Considering that it will cost me a lot of money to restore this house :
What claim can my ex partner make on this property ?
What liability do I have ?
If there is any liability on what basis would it be calculated ?
How would I counter claim against him for the cost of restoration of the property ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Under the Property Relationships Act this house would be relationship property and the starting point is an equal division, even though the contributions are not equal. What complicates your situation is that under section 24 of the act, any application for division of property must be made within 3 years of separation. But he has lodged a claim against the title within the three period, but hasn't taken any other steps. So he is bared from filing in court but will be difficult about removing the notice of claim, the caveat. So the value of his sore is at the time he applies to court but the amount of his share is as at separation. As he hasn't contributed to the overheads at all, and paid well under the market rent, his hare is likely to be much less than half. So you will need to consider making an offer to make him go away and I suggest start at about 10 to 20 % of the value as at now before you do any work on the property. But you could take a hard line and tell him he is out of time to claim anything.