Shelter Essay: General Essay Covering All Issues. The UN declared in the Universal Declaration of Human RIghts 1948 that “Everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family,” formally recognising the ubiquitous view that shelter is a fundamental right equal to that of food, clothing and social security. The right is also contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966, designed to give legal force to Articles 22 – 27 of the Declaration. They both recognise the limitations on the provision of shelter as this depends on the economic resources of each nation. Australia is a signatory to both documents, yet there is no legal right to shelter formally enacted into domestic law. However, government parties address shelter as a fundamental requisite. Statute law underpins the processes for securing shelter in Australia. It regulates transactions dealing with the transferring of property, protecting the rights of those involved and regulating behaviour between involved parties. Statute law has remained quite resolute and adaptable to changing situations in the housing market, which testifies to an efficient working system. The most common form of satisfying the right to shelter is to acquire a freehold interest, the highest and best interest that may be held. Lenders, who can secure their loans and issue mortgages, are often benefited by the freehold system as they make a large amount of money with little risk associated, as they hold the house as security in case the debt cannot be repaid. The general principle of home purchase is caveat emptor („let the buyer beware‟), as the purchaser is in a vulnerable position. To the average family a house may represent the bulk of the family wealth and they may devote the majority of their income to paying for it. Thus, the law must be effective in protecting the ordinary person from the risks involved in negotiating what may be a lifetime endeavour to achieve secure shelter for the family and provide for retirement. Australia has a much higher proportion of people who own their home than most other countries, reflecting the widely held community view that places considerable value on owning one‟s home. The commitment to the law is strong, as rights of buyers are well-protected because of the size and responsibility the purchase bears. A freehold title is guaranteed under the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW) and is confirmed by registration of title with the Land Titles Office. There are two systems of title registration: - Old Systems Title – to establish a good title to the land a chain of title must be established. This may a complicated and expensive process so government introduced - Torrens title – land under Old Systems Title under the Real Property (Conversion of Titles) Act 1967 may be converted to Torrens Title where a perfect title is guaranteed by the state as soon as the buyer registers his purchase with the Land Titles Office, or the chain of title need only to be proved for the last thirty years. The case of Breskvar vs Wall held that as long as a transaction is registered correctly the title is good and ownership is guaranteed. It demonstrates how the system delivers a certain and consistent outcome which is effective and in line with community interest. The transfer of title is governed by the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Amendment Act 1990 (NSW). The chief objective of this legislation is to protect the buyer against gazumping and unfair contracts, which may occur The Act is an example of how the law effectively responds to change and strives to ensure ethical standards are set that the vendor is obliged to cooperate with. It aims to prevent gazumping by - Allowing the exchange of contracts to occur at the point of sale - Requiring the vendor to have a contract before advertising the land for sale - Requiring the vendor to provide information such as sewerage diagrams, zoning/ easement restrictions, a copy of the title document, that was previously collected by the buyer. - A five day cooling off period to allow flexibility and the opportunity to rescind the contract if the purchaser finds any information incorrect. - Allowing real estate agents to exchange contracts (who must be licensed under the Auctioneers and Agents Act 1941 (NSW)) This does not apply if - The property is sold at auction/on the same day as auction - The buyer agrees to sign a section 66w certificate that waives the right to the cooling off period. Conveyancing may be conducted by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who carry professional indemnity insurance in case of mistake, so the purchaser will not lose money. Insurance is a vital method of ensuring security of shelter. Most insurance policies are now written in plain English which can prevent misunderstandings and difficulties when insurance claims occur. Tyoes if insurance that are needed when buying a home are building insurance, contents insurance and public liability insurance. The General Insurance Code of Practice covers issues such as agent supervision and training, policy documentation, the handling of claims and dispute resolution. If a dispute occurs, the consumer must take the complaint to the insurance company, who is obliged to have a formal dispute resolution service that must meet certain standards. If complaints cannot be resolved at this level, General Insurance Enquiries and Complaints Pty Ltd (IEC) will deal with disputes involving claims under $290000. The IEC will try to conciliate the matter, then the General Insurance Claims Review Panel will make a determination. Buying a home is a huge financial commitment, particularly in Australia where we think of shelter as more than just four walls and a roof but a representation of character, wealth and image, which we like to enlarge and embellish. A mortgage is a contract that uses the house as security for a loan to buy the house, benefiting lenders who can make a large amount of money with little risk associated, To obtain, buyers must be approved by credit providers who base their decision on who to lend to on the potential borrowers capacity for repayment. Repayment records may be investigated through the Credit Reference Association of Australia, which may affect a credit provider‟s decision, however it is illegal to discriminate against any person in the provision of credit. Difficulties in financing a home purchase include: - Saving a deposit, which may amount to 10 – 25 % of the complete purchase price, and other purchase costs such as valuation fees, insurance, pre-purchase inspection fees, disbursement charges incurred during conveyancing and loan fees. The First Home Owners Scheme is a $7000 grant to all people buying or building their first homes and relieves some of the financial burden inflicted from these initial costs. - Changing work patterns towards part time, casual and contract labour results in less job security which makes it difficult to consistently meet mortgage repayments. - Interest rates which can rise dramatically depending on the economic situation - Overcommitment in money borrowed in other areas places pressure in making repayments - The cost of housing which is increasing considerably particularly in Sydney metropolitan areas. The Mortgage Assistance Scheme is a government initiative that provides a maximum of $10 000 loan to people whose household income is less than $50 000 per annum and who owe less than $145 000 in the case of financial difficulty caused by an unavoidable change in circumstances. Strata title is a good example of how the legal system may change to accommodate for the explosion in home unit construction and improve flexibility in the law. The common way for owning units before 1961 was company title, where people bought shares in the company which gives them the right to occupy a unit. The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 governs the operation of units under strata title, and gives authority to the Owners Corporation, which consists of unit owners who elect the Council of the Owners Corporation annually. The functions of the Owners Corporation include: - maintaining a strata roll - keeping accounts relating to property - arranging adequate insurance - administering common property The by-laws under the Act allow for greater flexibility as they can be altered by a special resolution of the Owners Corporation if 75% of the owners vote in favour. Disputes are also more likely to occur in a strata scheme as everyone lives in such close proximity. Disputes may be settled by: - the Strata Schemes Commissioner who has the power to act as a conciliator, hear disputes and complaints and investigate breaches of the Act - the Strata Schemes Board which can make orders to resolve disputes or a penalty will be incurred - the Strata Schemes Mediation Service which provides assistance regarding the law and plays a mediating role. The case of Allen vs Proprietors of Strata Plan held that the Owners Corporation is responsible to maintain the common property in good and serviceable repair. It is a an example of the rights people possess to enjoy their surroundings and the fact that the Supreme Court was unwilling to make a decision shows how the legal system encourages disputes to be settled by more informal and less time-consuming means: that is, conciliation, mediation or simply rational communication so less friction and resentment is built between neighbours. Disputes or disagreements between neighbours are inevitable, particularly in high or medium density housing which has become a growing trend. The law of nuisance is an area under common law under which people who occupy neighbouring lands are entitled to enjoy their property without undue interference. Common causes of disputes and their resolutions are: - Noise – the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 regulate the amount of noise people may make, and court orders can make orders to prevent noise. Noise abatement directions can be issued by the police to prevent noise continuing - Smoke – burning off any material is prohibited under the Clean Air Act and the Protection of the Environment Operations Act can control and elimate offensive smoke and odours. - Animals – pets can cause nuisance because of noise, trespass and associated pests. Under the Companion of Animals Act 1998 local councils can place controls on dangerous animals of they are destroyed - Trees – Tree Preservation Orders can be obtained from Local Council in order to cut back overhanging branches and roots of a neighbours tree. - Dividing Fences – The Dividing Fences Act 1991 lays down provisions for the construction and payment of dividing fences. Usually the most effective way to resolve a dispute is by mediation and communicating rationally with the neighbour before the problem escalates and resentment builds, as the fact remains neighbours continue living in proximity and have an ongoing relationship. An article of the Sydney Morning Herald entitled “Strife”(??) highlights how neighbourhood disputes, when left unresolved, escalate beyond the point of being a legal issue and becomes an issue of retaliation. - Community Justice Centres are available to provide an independent mediator who can assist people to resolve their differences, which offer a cheap and effective way of resolving neighbourhood disputes. - Local governments play a large part in regulating behaviour that can cause disputes and may make orders to solve the problem. - The Environment Protection Authority can make orders relating to smoke and smells, among other things. This method of resolution can be time consuming, though it is effective in dealing with a continuing problem. - Tribunals do not play a role in disputes between neighbours yet court can make decisions where the common law of nuisance is involved and where there are disputes under relevant legislation - Courts can order injunctions and/or damages to be paid to the person who has sufferef form the neighbours activities. Mediation via neighbourhood discussion is more effective than litigaton. THe court system should be seen as a last resort because the cost is often far greater than the size of the problem. The court system is also slow and cumbersome and a long drawn out dispute may irreparably damage the relationship between neighbours. Gaining a leasehold interest is fast becoming a popular alternative to buying a house due to the considerable costs and commitment. Tenancy has a firmly entrenched tradition in common law, where tenants hold a proprietary interest; that is, they have the complete rights of the owner but for a specific period of time. The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 governs tenancies in regards to: - Rights of tenants o Quiet enjoyment o Vacant, habitable and clean possession o Secure premesis o Have repairs carried out o End the agreement if the landlord seriously breaches it. - Rights of landlords o Choose tenants (without discrimination) o Have rent paid on time o Increase rent (if in a continuing agreement given the tenant has 60 days notice) o End the agreement (30 days written notice if continuing agreement, 60 days notice without grounds) - Duties of Tenants o Paying rent on time o Keep premises clean and in good repair o Provide a premises „condition report‟ within 7 days of moving in o Not alter the premises without written permission. - Duties of Landlords o To provide rent receipts o To have premises fit for habitation o To make premises secure - Repairs and damages - Payment of rent and rent arrears – If a tenant is more than 14 days in arrears of rent, the landlord can terminate the tenancy agreement with 14 days notice to the tenant and recover the rent arrears from the rental bond. A tenant may seek a remedy by paying arrears. If the tenant does not move out, the landlord must apply to the CTTT for an order to end the tenancy. Under section 65(2b)of the Residential Tenancies Act, the tribunal may refuse to make an order if the tenant has remedied the breach. - Restrictions on tenants - Condition reports - Default and Evictions – If a landlord or tenant breaks the RTA tjey have defaulted, thus damages may paid or orders made against the offending party. TO evict a tenant, the landlord must obtain an Order of Termination and an Order of Possession from the CTTT. The tenant may defend against an eviction at a hearing providing they have some grounds. - Landlord Access - A bond is the sum of money paid by the tenant before taking possession of the property governed by the Landlord and Tenant (Rental Bonds) Act 1977 (NSW). The purpose is to safeguard the landlord in case of non- payment of rent or damage to the premises, which he may apply for, otherwise the bond is returned at the end of the agreement to the tenant. The sum must not exceed four weeks rent for an unfurnished dwelling or six weeks rent for a furnished dwelling with a weekly rent less than $250. The Residential Tenancy Agreement is the foundation of the lease and its effectiveness is dependant on the willingness of both parties to cooperate. It is written in a prescribed form to ensure consistency, understanding and fairness. A well-drafted lease will set out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in a way that should minimise disputes. Tenants need security of tenure, and landlords need to ensure that their premises are kept in good order, the rent is paid and the premises are recoverable. The law provides a specialist independent body, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. It provides an inexpensive and informal dispute resolution procedure. Tribunal orders are legally binding and enforceable through the local courts, decisions of which may be appealed to the Supreme Court. Taking a matter to court rather than the tribunal however must be considered carefully as if the court believes the matter could have been adequately dealt with by the tribunal, then the party taking the action would have to pay legal costs. The tribunal does not usually allow representation, with the exception that landlords may be represented by their agents. This is at disadvantage to the tenants, as agents become experienced and skilled in an area that is unfamiliar to most tenants. The tribunal may allow a lawyer or tenancy worker to represent a tenant. The case of Boston & Broadbent vs Doeppel (2003) from the CTTT demonstrates the rights of tenants and how they can be enforced under the Residential Tenancy Agreement. The tenants are the applicants making the claim which as statistics historically show is quite rare, as tenants have shown to be less aware of their rights. Issues include overpayment of rent and breach of the Residential Tenancy Agreement by the landlord including the right to quiet enjoyment (s 22(1)(a) and s 22 (1)(b)) and not keeping premises in a reasonable state of repairs (s25(1)(a) and s22(1)(b). Aural, photographic and witness evidence was used. The tenants were awarded compensation for the non-economic losses and refunded for the amount of overpaid rent. An interesting matter in this case is that under the Residential Tenancies Act a breach of agreement must be reported 30 days after the breach, which the applicants did not adhere to. However under the CTTT Act 2002 the Tribunal may extend this period of time. This exemplifies a mechanism for achieving justice and equality of outcomes, as in this case the tenant in good faith thought the landlord would repair the premises and couldn‟t afford moving out at that time. Tenant‟s unions attempt to redress the imbalance in power between the tenant and the landlord. Landlords are often in the most advantageous position because they control access to housing, are often wealthy and can be represented by real estate agents who are experienced in dealing with the tenancy laws. The Tenants Union of NSW can run test cases in the courts to challenge unfair decisions, whereas individual tenants could not afford to run such cases. As with freehold, the cost of private housing has risen and inexpensive rental properties are increasingly scarce, particularly in central Sydney, where a 60% decrease in the number of available dwellings was caused by the lack of affordable private rental accommodation. A study by the Planning Research Centre at the University of Sydney showed a 50% rise in the number of households paying more than 30% of their weekly income on rent or mortgages. Dr Judith Yates idenitified a growing trend for high income earners under 35 to rent at prices lower than they can afford, contributing to a decrease in rental properties available to low income earners. Law reform is necessary to deal with this situation, such as intervention to depress demand for private rental, increased public housing and incentives to encourage people who can afford it to buy rather than rent. Rent assistance is provided through Centre-link, however there is no allowance for variation in payments for people living in high cost areas, and 45% of those that received Rent Assistance in 1998 were still paying more than 30% of their weekly income in rent. The NSW Department of Housing may pay up to 75% of bond money and some advance rent or rent arrears to those in urgent need in the private rental market, which is an example of government delegated assistance to ensure equal access to shelter. Public housing in NSW is provided from both State and Federal governments under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement and provides better security of tenure than private rental. Under the Residential Tenancies (Social Housing) Act 1998 the Department of Housing must provide reasons for eviction with 60 days notice and allow the tenant to answer the allegations made, except in the case of non-payment of rent, unlike private landlords who do not need to provide a reason. Rental assistance in the form of an ongoing rental subsidy is often available which makes public housing more affordable than that paid by people who receive rent assistance form Centrelink. The article “Public Housing Reforms Erode Tenant’s Rights” (Tenant Advocate 2002) states the changes to provision and administration of public housing implemented to assist tenants to become more self-reliant. The changes include the requirement that tenants provide a four week bond which increases unaffordability, and renewable tenancy agreements which remove security of tenure. The Government has also proposed that in eviction proceedings for breach of an acceptable behaviour agreement, the onus of proof would be reversed, so that the tenant would have to prove why they should not be evicted. A basic principal and fundamental protection of our legal system is that the party who initiates legal proceedings bears the onus of proof. It casts a suspicion over all public housing tenants, effectively removes them from the philosophy of consumer protection under the Residential Tenancies Act, and reduces proceedings in the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal to the tenant pleading for their tenancy. The proposal strips public housing tenants of a basic legal protection, and sets a dangerous legislative precedent. In June 2004, the Government passed new laws about 'anti-social behaviour' that will apply only to public housing tenants. They could be made to sign 'acceptable behaviour agreements' in addition to the usual tenancy agreement. The Tenants' Union believes that public housing tenants should expect their conduct to judged by the same standards that apply to the rest of the community. These reforms fail to address the current housing stock, where demand currently is greater than supply. A legal remedy for this in extreme circumstances is priority housing where applicants are provided with housing before their turn on the waiting list. Temporary emergency accommodation is made immediately available if applicants are suffering from a very severe housing crisis. The scarcity of accommodation makes discrimination more likely as landlords can choose from a wide range of hopeful applicants. Tenants who feel discriminated against can take their complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Board who may be able to grant compensation however it is difficult to prove, which highlights an area where the law may not work effectively. This is especially so in the less than adequate housing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and limited rights of residents in boarding houses, hostels, hotels and other forms of supported accommodation that may not be sufficiently monitored by the government. In contrast to the largely effective means by which the law protects home purchasers, tenants and landlords in securing shelter and having security of shelter is the provision of accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Despite initiatives by governments and Aboriginal communities over the last 20 years, many indigenous peoples still live in housing of a far lower standard than the rest of the community. The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey in 1994 which found - 7 in 10 indigenous households rent their premises compared to 3 in 10 non-indigenous households - 1 in 3 indigenous people live in unsatisfactory dwellings - In more than 5 % of Aboriginal dwellings in NSW one utility, either toilet, shower, electricity or gas is missing - In the month before the survey, over 9% of households were affected by breakdown in basic services such as water supply. Only 35% of ATSI peoples own their own home compared with 70% of all Australians. Thus, ATSI rely on private and public rental accommodation far more than other Australians. The Aboriginal Housing Act 1998 (NSW) provides for an Aboriginal Hosing Office to administer the supply of housing for Aboriginal people in NSW, which is an important means of securing shelter as Aboriginals are more likely to suffer discrimination in the private rental market. This is shown in the article “Looking for a home but greeted by racism” (THe Daily Telegraph Jan 04) where Fiona Williams was told there were no properties for lease by LJ Hooker Jervis Bay yet a few minutes later a non-Aboriginal friend was offered four properties by the same office. It states that 11% of complaints made by indigenous people in the past year related to accommodation, enough for the Fair Trading Tribunal to appoint an Aboriginal assistant investigator for cases involving Aboriginal tenants. Under the doctrine of terra nullius they had no legal title to any part of Australia until the Mabo decision and Native Title Act 1993, however very little native title has been granted in NSW and the Wik amendments have weakened the right of Aboriginal people to native title. Under the Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW) Aboriginal people can gain title to vacant Crown lands through a system of land coucils set up by the legislation. The NSE Aborginial Land Council also encourages home ownership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Accommodation requirements can change as people become old or ill or unable to care for themselves. These people need supported accommodation. Because residents are usually old, infirm or disabled they can be exploited. Growing public concern about adequate provisions of services, security of tenure, security of finances and the rights of the aged, infirm and disabled residents had led to new laws in this area in recent years. Types of accommodation for the aged and disabled include: - Group homes are homes placed in a community, where people with an intellectual disability live as part of the wider community and are provided with care and support within the home. They are run by either the Departement of Community Services (DOCS) or are privately run. Privately run homes are licensed by the NSW Department of Ageing and Disability under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 (NSW). People with Disabilities Inc and the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability have expressed concern at a plan announced in June 1999 by the NSW government to privatise 75% of the 200 group homes that are currently run by DOCS, as while DOCS group homes are considered poor to mediocre, even worse conditions can prevail in non-government group hhomes which are not as closely monitored. - Boarding houses and hostels must also be licensed under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 if they house two or more disabled residents. However in the past there has been no adequate inspection of these premises. Since 1996, boarding houses that cater for the mentally and intellectually disabled have been forced to meet licensing regulations or to close. In 1998, the NSW Department of Ageing and Disability announced a package of reforms to improve conditions for people with a mental illness or intellectual disability living in boarding houses. These reforms include: Personal care and supervision services are to be undertaken by other service providers, not by boarding house proprietors Relocation of people who are not adequately catered for in boarding houses. A stricter monitoring system for boarding house proprietors. Residents of retirement viallages usually enter into residence contracts with the retirement villege when they move in. Such contracts are subject ot the Contracts Review Act 1980 (NSW). Retirement villages are subject to provisions under the Retirement Villages Act 1989 and the Retirement Industry Code of Practice. These laws give mimportant rights to residents in retirement villages including security of tenure, dispute resolution facilities and participation in the management of the village. These laws apply to both self-contained units and hostel-style accommodation, but not to nursing homes,which come under the Aged Care Act 1997. Complaints about retirement villages can be heard by the CTTT under the Retirement Villages Act. In addition, the Department of Fair Trading has the authority to monitor and enforce the Code of Practice Regulations. THe Tenancy Commissioner is employed under the Public Sector Management Act 1988 to investigate and report on matters relating to retirement villages. THe Commissioner also investigates and attempts to resolve complaints by residents and management of retirement villages. The Retirement Villages Act was amended in 1998 to better regulate residence contracts and financial aspects of retirement villages. The Aged Care Act 1997 restructured the laws regarding hostels and nursing homes for the aged, This act brought in a „user pays‟ system for those who can afford to pay for their care and accommodation. Under this system, residents may be obliged to pay an accommodation bond for extra service nursing homes or hostel accommodation. Bonds cannot be charged for standard nursing homes. A bond is only payable if the resident is left with a certan amount ofa asses after its payment. In nursing homes, a resident may be charged a daily accommodation charge if his or her assets are above a certain level. The quality of care is specified. For example, there must be an experiences and qualifies nurse on the premises. The standard of residential care sevices is monitoired by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency. If a service fails to meet standards set down inder the Aged Care Act, sanctions can be imposed. Residents may only be moved if the provider cannot meet the needs of the residents or is closing, thus security of tenure is protected. THe Charter of Residents Rights and Responsibilitis give residents the right to be treated fairly and with dignity and to be given respect for their individual beliefs. Residents must respect the rights of other tenants. Complaints about the quality of service or accommodation can be made to the redsidential care service itself which is obliged to have a complaints mechanism or to the Department of Aged and Health Care’s Complaints Resolution Scheme. Legal assistance and complaints mechanisms are available to those in supported accommodation. Three of these services are: The Department of Aged and Health Care’s Complaints Resolution Scheme. The Accomodation Rights Service, a community legal centre that acts for people living in accommodation for the aged. Established by joint Commonwealth and state funding and acts as an advocacy, advice, information and mediation serive for anyone over 55 living in supported accommodation THe Community services Commissioner and the Community Services Division of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, regulated by the Community Services (Complaints, Appeals and Monitoring) Act 1993 can hear complaints about accommodation for the disabled. The Residential Parks Act 1998 (NSW) governs the relationship between people who live in residential parks and manufactured home estates. This Act covers permanent residents and has similar provisions to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987. The Act also provides that: Tenancies may only be terminated for specified reasons Rent increases take into account various factors including previous increases and inflation Regulation of liability for water and electricity costs Regulation of selling on-site dwellings Access to the CTTT Dispute settling mechanisms Assistance from the Renting and Strata Services Branch of the Office of Fair Trading, or your local Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service (TAAS). Disputes Committees hear and mediate on disputes about changes to park rules, on disputes which the parties are happy to be dealt with by the Committee (but not termination of tenancy agreements) and on matters referred by the Tribunal. This Committee must be set up by the park owner when a dispute arises. A Disputes Committee consists of a panel of 3 persons: someone appointed by the residents someone representing the park owner someone agreed to by the other two committee members. The Disputes Committee has the power to settle disputes and declare that a park rule change or new park rule is fair or unfair. The Committee must advise all the residents who made the Application and the park owner of its decision, in writing, within 30 days of receiving notice of the dispute. If the Committee decides that a park rule is unfair, the rule is invalidated 30 days after notification of the decision. If you are not happy with the Disputes Committee's decision, you and the other residents who disputed the park rule change may apply to the Tribunal. The application must be made within 30 days of receipt of notice of the decision. The Tribunal has the power to: alter the rule set aside the rule change uphold the rule change. If the park owner breaks the terms of the Agreement, the matter can be taken to the Park Liaison Committee or Park Disputes Committee. The Commissioner for Fair Trading has published Guidelines on the procedures for the operation of Disputes Committees and the selection of the resident representative. These Guidelines are not mandatory and may be varied to suit individual park circumstances. Australia has a much higher proportion of people who own their home than most other countries, reflecting the widely held community view that places considerable value on owning one‟s home. The commitment to the law is strong, as rights of buyers are well-protected because of the size and responsibility the purchase bears. The system of leasehold and freehold aims to ensure fairness in the prescribed form of the lease and contracts and provides effective dispute resolution which attempts to resolve matters to minimise conflict between parties as they have an ongoing relationship. The legal system has been fine tuned and amended in areas that caused injustice or difficulty in gaining secure or security to shelter over the past decades and the result is a strong system that works effectively in redressing inequalities between parties and ensuring they have equal access to shelter and the law.