Author: Sharon Knight

Domestic building dispute resolution

Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) is an independent government agency that provides free services to help resolve domestic (residential) building disputes.

This service was established to resolve domestic building disputes without the cost and time often associated with courts and tribunals.

If you experience an issue during a residential building project, you need to try to resolve the dispute yourself – before you apply to DBDRV. This is a legislative requirement, so you will need some proof showing how you have tried to resolve the dispute. This may include notes from meetings or email records.

If you are unable to resolve the issue(s) during your initial meeting with the other party, i.e. owner or builder (or other parties), you must write to the other party outlining any remaining issues. In this letter, you must advise them of your next step, which might include lodging an application with DBDRV.

To begin resolving your dispute through DBDRV, simply visit their website and click on the “application” button.

You will be prompted with a range of questions about your domestic building dispute DBDRV will review your application and if you are eligible to use the services, then you will be allocated a file manager, who will familiarise themselves with your matter and decide which course of action is most appropriate in your dispute.  Please note that you need to be involved in the process in good faith and attempt to fully resolve the issues.

DBDRV will arrange a conciliation conference to see if the parties are able to mutually resolve their dispute. If the matter settles, then the Dispute Resolution Officer will present a draft order to the Chief Dispute Resolution Officer.

The Chief Dispute Resolution Officer has the power to issue binding dispute resolution orders and certificates.  Builders, please note that if the dispute involves any defective works, the Chief Dispute Resolution Officer will report them to the Victorian Building Authority after the conciliation process is completed.

Further information

If you are not eligible to use DBDRV, your next step, is to speak with us.

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV): https://www.dbdrv.vic.gov.au/

Image credit: www.dbdrv.vic.gov.au/

You could go to jail for building without a building permit.

Prior to 24 May 2017, if you build or make renovations to a property without the required building permits, you could be fined or asked to replace/demolish the building/addition, or both.

From 24 May 2017, section 16B of the Building Act (1993) has been amended to include new penalties.

Now, anyone who is in the business of building [including architects, landowners and builders] connected to a project the value of which exceeds the prescribed amount and that has no building permit, can face up to 5 years of jail, or fines of up to $109,044.00

A company associated with an illegal renovation [including demolition] can be fined up to $545.220.00

This amendment applies to any type of construction or alteration that requires a building permit to be obtained – which generally includes any major structural alteration, or a range of small jobs including adding a window, moving a wall, adding a pergola etc.

Implications for Landowners

A landowner is specifically prohibited from permitting building work to be done on their land without a building permit and/or in breach of the Act, the Regulations or the permit.

It is a defense for the land owner if a building practitioner or architect has been engaged to carry out the building work.

Implications for Builders and other professionals

Building practitioners and architects are specifically prohibited from carrying out building work without a building permit and/or in breach of the Act, the Regulations or the permit.

When engaged to carry out building work, building practitioners and architects must ensure that a building permit has been issued and is in force for that building work, and that the work complies with the Act, the regulations and the permit.

For more details – contact us, or click here for a fact sheet.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a payment made by one spouse/de facto partner to another for the maintenance of that person.

Spousal maintenance is not an automatic right.

Section 72 of the Family Law Act 1975 states that:

A party to a marriage is liable to maintain the other party, to the extent that the first-mentioned party is reasonably able to do so, if, and only if, that other party is unable to support herself or himself adequately whether:

1. By reason of having the care and control of a child of the marriage who has not attained the age of 18 years;

2. By reason of age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment;

OR

3. For any other adequate reason.

A party may apply to the Court for an Order for spousal maintenance 12 months from the date of divorce or 24 months from the date of separation in the case of a de facto relationship.

It is common for parties to remain separated but not apply for a divorce. If that is the case, then there is a danger that one spouse may make a claim for spousal maintenance against the other even though the parties may have separated for a long time.

Spousal maintenance payments are generally separate to the property division between parties although they may sometimes form part of the property division/settlement.

For more information about spousal maintenance, speak with one of our lawyers today.

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Beware of a S6Q Notice.

What is an S6Q Notice? It is a default notice that is sent in accordance with section 6Q of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). If you owe a creditor an amount that is more than $150, that creditor can do the following:

  1. Issue you with a first S6Q Notice as soon as the debt becomes overdue;
  2. If the amount is not paid within 30 days of the date the first S6Q Notice is issued, they can then send you a second Notice;
  3. Wait for another 14 days and then register you on your credit report. This can be disastrous as it will prevent you from obtaining finance. The entry on your credit report automatically lapses on the expiration of 5 years of the date of the entry however, 5 years is a long time when you need to, let’s say, apply for a personal loan or refinance.

There are other steps that are available to a creditor to pursue the debt – one of them is to issue a proceeding in court. It is important therefore, to act as soon as the first Notice is received and contact us to obtain advice on your options.

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Application for Divorce – We can help you

You and your spouse may be able to apply for a divorce (dissolution of marriage) if you have been separated for 12 months and more, there is no reasonable likelihood of resuming your marriage and if you satisfy the jurisdictional requirements for the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to make a divorce order.

We charge a fixed fee for the Application according to Part 3 of the Family Law Rules 2004 (Family Court Scale of costs)(excluding disbursements) and not on hourly rates! This includes drafting the Application along with any accompanying Affidavits, arranging for a process server to serve your spouse with the Application (if necessary), organising the filing service documents at the Court and attending at Court for the divorce hearing (if necessary). If your marriage certificate is not in English we can organise for a translation too.

We had a client who paid $200 to a company (not a law firm) they found on the internet to assist her with completing the paperwork, only to accidentally pay for the wrong Application form. She was not able to get her money back. She was also not informed that she had to then make her own arrangements to serve the Application on her spouse which was an extra charge on top of the $200. In the end she decided to come to us to assist her with the documents and to serve her spouse who was evading service. We got her documents in order and attended at the divorce hearing with her and her divorce order was granted.

Save yourself the hassle of drafting the Application on your own and arranging for service of the documents all by yourself and let us handle the paperwork. Contact us today.

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.