Residential, Commercial: Both or None – Leases

19, October 2020

Taking Advantage of Kindness‘.

Initial Enquiry

A client attending our city offices distressed by the circumstances she had found herself in. Over the previous 18 months, the client, an elderly landlady owning several inner west apartments, had befriended a builder after completing some work at her residential property. They entered a contractual arrangement for future services. The builder made a request to leave tools in a vacant apartment including building materials. This progressed to the builder also setting up an office in the apartment. When the client asked the builder to leave, the builder declined.

The Process

The first thing lawyers had to consider was to classify the legal proprietary relationship between the landlady and the builder. In law, a verbal lease could imply responsibility of the client, to the builder, under a commercial or residential property act. The builder was using a residential dwelling in a commercial capacity. To get the required legal precedent, Harbourside’s expert property lawyers referred to extensive case law and legislation.


After lawyers could not find any legal of equitable lease between the Parties, under instruction, Harbourside issued the builder with a legal letter demanding the immediate vacating of the premises. Initially, the builder refused. This decision quickly changing when a second letter resulted in the builder leaving the property promptly, and with no further action necessary. 

Click here to read more articles or learn more about the Team