Forcing a sale of jointly owned property in Victoria

Forcing a sale of jointly owned property in Victoria

Forcing a sale of jointly owned property in Victoria


What do you do if you want to sell a property and the other owner doesn’t?

Can you force a sale of jointly owned property in Victoria?

If the parties are married or in a de facto relationship, then the Family Court of Australia will have jurisdiction deal with those disputes.

If however there is no such relationship then the parties can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“ VCAT”) to settle such disputes or force a sale.  For example, a brother and sister owing land together- the brother wants to be paid out half the value or sell and get his half, but the sister doesn’t want to sell and can’t afford to and doesn’t want to pay him out.

You can apply to VCAT if you want to make an order for the sale or division of co-owned land or goods. Such applications are made under the Property Law Act 1958.  VCAT can hear some cases, but will not have jurisdiction for other types that would normally go to the Supreme Court of Victoria

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear co-ownership disputes where:

  • one co-owner wants to sell land or goods but the other co-owner does not agree
  • co-owners agree to the sale of land or goods but cannot agree on how to sell the land or goods, e.g. choosing between an auction or private sale, choosing the selling agent or conveyancer.
  • co-owners cannot agree on how the net proceeds of sale should be distributed between them after sale
  • one co-owner wants the other co-owner to account to them for rent received or pay compensation for expenses incurred
  • one co-owner wants the land or goods to be divided differently to what is shown on the certificate of title or other documentation.

Cases VCAT cannot hear

  • You must be a co-owner of goods or property to apply to VCAT to hear a co-ownership dispute. If you are not a co-owner, VCAT cannot make any orders under the Property Law Act 1958. For example, if your dispute only concerns how much money the other co-owners received after the co-owned land was already sold, then it may be too late to make an application. This is because once ownership in the land or goods has been transferred to the buyer, you no longer have an interest in the land or goods. This means that you are no longer defined as a co-owner in the Property Law Act 1958. For such a situation, you would need to get legal advice on what other options and jurisdictions are available depending on the precise circumstances of the case.
  • VCAT cannot hear claims which relate solely to money in the bank, even if the money is jointly owned. This is because money is excluded from the definition of goods under the Property Law Act 1958.


If you would like to know more about this topic -take advantage of our free half hour legal consults. They can be done in person or via Skype or telephone conference.

Call 03 8742 3199 or email to make a booking and mention this article to claim your free booking.