You can feel pretty helpless if you own property with someone and can’t reach an agreement on what to do with it, what price to sell it for or perhaps who to sell it to. It may be that you and your spouse have separated and cannot agree on what is to happen to the property or it may be that you have joined together with a friend or investor to buy an investment property and you want to do different things with the property and cannot reach a compromise.

Well one way to resolve property owner disputes is through the appointment of a Statutory Trustee over the property. A Statutory Trustee will market and sell the property and distribute the net sale proceeds to the respective owners. In Queensland the ability to appoint Statutory Trustees stems from Section 38 of the Property Law Act 1974 (Qld). To appoint a Statutory Trustee you therefore have to apply to Court seeking relevant orders.

What does a Statutory Trustee do?

A Statutory Trustee’s primary role is to realise the disputed property and distribute the sale proceeds to the respective owners. The general timeline of events once a trustee is appointed are:

  1. The Trustee will contact the respective owners and advise of their appointment and request such information and documentation as they require
  2. The Trustee will contact various real estate agents to get proposals on how best to market and sell the property and what sale price they expect to achieve.
  3. The Trustee will arrange for valuers to inspect the property and provide a valuation. This will guide them on what offers they can and cannot accept.
  4. A Real Estate Agent will market the property for sale.
  5. The Trustee will enter into a contract of sale with the successful interested party.
  6. The Property will settle and the Trustee will then pay their costs and remit the remaining funds to the respective owners.

Depending upon the complexity of the property (or properties) a Statutory Trustee’s fees can be significant. This is an important consideration when thinking about appointing a Statutory Trustee.

Some previous Statutory Trustee appointments

We have been involved in numerous statutory trustee appointments over the years, often in connection with a bankrupt estate where a co-owner is not willing to sell the property together or make an offer themselves. There have also been plenty of appointments stemming from matrimonial breakdowns where parties cannot agree on what’s to happen with jointly owned property.

Case Study 1 – Appointed by Bankruptcy Trustees over bankrupt and wife’s property

In this case we were appointed Statutory Trustees over a bankrupt and his wife’s jointly owned property by his bankruptcy trustees. Despite being given plenty of opportunities to do so the bankrupt’s wife had not made an offer to the Trustees to purchase her husband’s share in a vacant block of land. After our appointment we were able to successful negotiate a sale of the bankrupt estate’s half interest to the wife for the fair value of the property. Unfortunately because of the bankrupt’s wife’s non-responsive behaviour she ended up paying extra costs to buy the bankrupt’s interest in the property. We can assist bankrupt’s and their spouses with ways to retain property and deal with their bankruptcy trustees.

Case Study 2 – Ex-wife who had not received court-ordered payment from her former husband

This appointment involved a former wife applying to court to appoint us as statutory trustees over a property owned by her former husband. He had failed to pay her a large sum of money owed as part of a matrimonial property settlement and the property he owned closely matched the amount she was owed.

Upon our appointment we took steps to obtain vacant possession of the property and market it for sale. After a couple months we had a sale contract in place and upon successful settlement the money owed to the former wife was paid to her and the balance paid to the husband. All in all it was a relatively quick and simple procedure to enable the ex-wife to be paid her debt in full.

If you are involved in a property dispute and unsure of your options to deal with it get in touch on 1300 906 966 or send us an email at

Posted on 30-07-18 in Financial Dispute Resolution, Personal Debt Solutions.