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Couple discover they never legally owned their home five years after buying it

Couple discover they never legally owned their home five years after buying it

They believed they'd bought it at auction five years ago

An Australian couple have faced every homeowner's nightmare: purchasing their dream property only to discover five years later it was never theirs in the first place.

The courts ruled in February this year that Jess and Jackie Morecroft from Queensland, Australia had only an 'equitable' and no 'legal interest' in their home because the title had never been transferred into their names.

In March 2018, they believed they'd purchased the house on Francis St at a mortgage auction for AU $1.265 million (£671,000)

The couple have been fighting to keep the home, which is now worth AU $2.7 million (more than £1.4 million) according to court documents.

"We bought the house and we moved in and then we got sued," Jess explained to ABC news.

"And it's just been this slow-moving nightmare ever since."


The family moved to Mermaid Beach from Victoria because they hoped the warmer weather and salt air would help their child who suffers from a lung condition.

Sadly the couple and their family are now being forced to leave the Gold Coast property after the Queensland Supreme Court ruled it still belonged to 83-year-old Hind Issa - the previous owner.

What they weren't aware of when they closed at auction, was that Hind claimed the house had been unlawfully mortgaged as security for a loan by a relative who later defaulted.

She placed a caveat over the property in an attempt to stop the sale because she could not afford an injunction in court.

After negotiations with the mortgagees who sold the property, she agreed to remove the caveat in exchange for $40K (£21k) prior to settlement, which the Morecrofts settled on 1 June, 2018.

But the Registrar of Titles had placed a second caveat over the property after Hind told them her home had been 'fraudulently mortgaged by criminals' - so they were unable to transfer the home into their names.

It was every homeowner's nightmare.

As a result, from 2018 the title remained in her name while the Morecrofts paid for and lived in the home while Hind tried to get her house back.

Hind is now suffering from Alzheimer's but a handwriting expert gave evidence that her signature had been forged on the loan documents and that the mortgagees attempts to verify that she had executed the mortgage on her home before selling were 'inadequate'.

Justice Crowley found in February that the mortgagees were not entitled to sell the house and that the mortgage was null, void and fraudulent.

The court found the Morecrofts were entitled to recover AU $2,751,666.32 (around £1,460,342) from the mortgagees who sold the house for breach of contract.

But having already spent more than AU $300,000 (£159,000) in legal fees they aren't sure they can afford to go after the money - and want government compensation as victims for fraud.

Jess said: "There is an endpoint here for us, which would totally ruin us … it feels very desperate at this point."

A decision on compensation from the state government will be made in court on Friday.

Featured Image Credit: Maksim Zilberman / olga Yastremska / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Money, News, Australia