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Equity Trustees delicately negotiates so all parties are happy

It took rare negotiation skills to resolve a property dispute complicated by a range of unlikely tenants, including crocodiles, dingos, snakes and exotic birds.

Nestled amongst an affluent suburb of Melbourne once sat a property that rivalled Melbourne Zoo. From crocodiles, snakes and exotic birds to half a dozen dingos and one loyal dog, Roger had brought half the outback to South-East Melbourne. 

“He was how you’d visualise the Crocodile Dundee of suburbia in the way that he looked and he spoke,” Equity Trustees General Manager, Estates, Trusts & Tax, Aaron Tunks, said. 

“He had a lot of complaints from the neighbours – as you’d imagine. You don’t really want to live alongside a menagerie.”

Unfortunately for Roger, the property wasn't his. 

It was owned by a trust set up by his late uncle. Under the terms, Roger's mother had life tenancy at the property, but she couldn't live there because Roger wouldn't move out. 

After much negotiation, Equity Trustees was able to strike an agreement with all impacted parties. Equity Trustees negotiated with all parties to advance significant capital, which he was set to receive once his mother died, to help him move.

“We ended up making an agreement with the life tenant who effectively had the right to reside at the place and would be the one immediately affected by us advancing the money,” Aaron said. 

The money was used to move Roger – and his travelling band of animals – to a property off the grid and in the tropics.

“I was on the phone to a company called Jet Pets, which transport animals, asking the call centre person to please bear with me as I started to name all the animals we’d like to ship up to the Far North.”

Roger moved out and the trustee sold the house for a tidy sum back to the trust. 

“It settles this month. It'll be demolished by the buyer, which is a bit sad because it would have been an appealing heritage home in its time,” Aaron said. 

And Roger is happily living it up in Far North Queensland off the grid with his many furry and scaly friends and family. 

Without the mediation of Equity Trustees, the situation could’ve ended up destroying the relationships and well-being of several family members. 

The solution was set to impact all parties involved and required a delicate and professional approach to get the deal done. 

Still, in situations like these not everyone comes out unscathed. 

Some of the local pythons have been feasting on Roger’s exotic birds – a situation that would be far less likely to occur near the golden sands of Melbourne’s bayside beaches. 

This article and more appears in Edition 4 of Generation magazine – View this edition here and previous ones.

Names changed to protect privacy.