Couple lived in home for 5 years but left after finding out they didn’t own it
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A couple who bought their dream home five years ago have been forced to move out after a court ruled that the property hadn't been signed over to them from the previous owners.
Jess and Jackie Morecroft paid around £630,000 ($1.2million AUD) at auction for the property on Australia's Gold Coast back in March 2018.
The pair have been living in the house in Mermaid Beach, Queensland for the last five years, with the value of the property climbing to over more than £1.4m ($2.7m AUD) in that time.
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However, the Queensland Supreme Court has since ruled that the couple didn't own the property after all as it was never transferred into the couple's names, even though they bought and paid for it.
Court documents have shown that the property is still under the name of the previous owner, 83-year-old Hind Issa, as the Registrar of Titles had placed a caveat on it when Ms Issa contacted them saying the home had been "fraudulently mortgaged by criminals".
Ms Issa claims that her signature had been forged for the sale of the property.
Since then, Mr and Mrs Morecroft were engaged in a legal battle over the house until, earlier this year, it was established that Ms Issa, who has Alzheimer's and was represented in court by her daughter, was the rightful owner.
The court also found the Morecrofts did not have a legal interest in the home.
Mr Morecroft told ABC: "There is an endpoint here for us, which would totally ruin us… it feels very desperate at this point."
His wife said she was "living in fear" because of the stress of losing the property which had been their home for five years.
She said: "We're just normal people who have bought a house."
During the trial, the couple's lawyer argued that Ms Issa's removal of the caveat on the property showed she no longer had an interest in the house.
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Justice Crowley said the woman, who removed the caveat in exchange for $40,000 (£21,000), had done it "on the express basis that she reserved all her rights".
On Friday (April 28) the Queensland government was ordered to pay compensation to the Morecrofts after they were forced to spend $300,000 (£160,000) in legal fees.
Mr Morecroft said the order was a "huge relief", adding that he hopes the government – which has the right to appeal the decision – will accept and pay the money.
Australian media report that the matter will return to court next month.
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