Home sale sparks legal fight

John and Ngaire Roberts were happy after the judgment following the sale of their home.
John and Ngaire Roberts were happy after the judgment following the sale of their home. Brett Wortman

A FEISTY 88-year-old Mooloolaba resident has fought a long and expensive legal battle against prominent Sunshine Coast developer Scott Juniper - and appears to have won the final round.

John Roberts took Mr Juniper to court over the sale of his Culbara St property in Mooloolaba.

Mr Juniper offered to buy the property on May 27, 2004 for $2,336,250 with a two-year settlement.

It was agreed as part of the purchase price, he could lease the property until settlement.

Not only did Mr Juniper lease the property, he also leased it to other people, carried out renovation work and advertised it for sale.

But then, about a week before final settlement was due, Mr Juniper cancelled the contract on a technicality.

He argued the contract that he signed "didn't have a warning statement attached to it" and he could cancel the deal.

Mr Roberts sold the property again to another party on September 21, 2006, for nearly $200,000 less. Mr Juniper took Mr Roberts to court in 2007 to claim his deposit back.

He won and Mr Roberts was ordered to pay about $242,000 plus costs.

But if Mr Juniper thought the matter would end there, he was wrong. He took on the wrong octogenarian.

"My nature is that I don't like to be duped," Mr Roberts said.

He took Mr Juniper to court and, in separate legal actions, Mr Roberts also successfully sued his own solicitor and his real estate agent.

Last Thursday, judgment was handed down in the Maroochydore District Court in Mr Roberts' favour.

The judge found Mr Juniper should pay Mr Roberts $144,999.42.

This included about $28,000 for damages for breach of contract, about $68,000 as "restitution for use and occupation of real property" as well interest on the sums from May, 2006, totalling nearly $49,000.

A judgment for costs has yet to be determined.

Mr Roberts, who believes costs will be "a six-figure sum", said he was confident they would be awarded against Mr Juniper.

Mr Roberts said yesterday he was relieved "justice has been served".

The long and complicated battle has also been the subject of extensive legal debate, with changes introduced to the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act.

The law has been changed so that a contract can now only be terminated for breach of a warning statement requirement "within 90 days after the contract has been entered into or settlement whichever is earlier".

Mr Roberts said he was "lucky enough" to be in the position to take on these kinds of legal battles.

"I've been in business a long time," Mr Roberts said.

"It tends to be the way some of these people work. They've got the resources and people don't like to go to court. I'm lucky enough not to be in that position."

Mr Juniper could not be reached for comment.

Topics:  court development mooloolaba property real estate scott juniper

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