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Land title battle

Saturday, 25th February, 2017

Brothers Syd and Brad Battams are fighting for the ownership of this block of land which they say has been in the family for 40 years. PICTURE: Daniel Stringer Brothers Syd and Brad Battams are fighting for the ownership of this block of land which they say has been in the family for 40 years. PICTURE: Daniel Stringer

By Daniel Stringer

A Broken Hill family has been fighting a seven-year battle to prove that they are the rightful owners of a block of land, as the situation becomes more and more frustrating. 

Brothers Syd and Brad Battams say they own the vacant block of land beside their parent’s property in Patton Street. According to them, their father brought the land from the previous owner 40 years ago after the house on the block burnt down.   

For more than 30 years nothing changed but the trouble started almost seven years ago when their father died.

“When mum was trying to transfer everything over into her name, the trustees told her there was no title deed to that block of land,” Brad Battams said yesterday.  

“They told her she couldn’t transfer the house or the land into her name without the deed, so for six years she was fighting to get that done,” Mr Battams said. 

Unfortunately, their mother also died recently, meaning the matter was passed on to the children. 

Brad says there is no shortage of proof that his father did in fact buy the land four decades ago.

“We have got proof of who dad brought it off, we have got a receipt of the sale and we have a statutory declaration from the sister of the former owner saying the sale took place.”

One of the things about the situation that has left the family in a state of frustration is the fact that for 40 years their father and now they have been paying council rates for the land. 

So the question is, how could council accept more than $20,000 in rates for land with no title?

“Why was the council taking the money from the rates if they reckon there was no title on the land?

“We said to them that we want that money back if we have been paying it for nothing and they just turned around and said to us that it doesn’t work like that.”

To make a hard situation even more complicated, over a year ago Crown Lands joined the party, saying that if there was no title then the land belonged to the Aboriginal people.  

“They then sent my mum a letter telling her she could buy the land off them and that is when we went to (local State MP) Kevin Humphries for help.” 

The matter is now in the courts, as Crown Lands and the state department are trying to determine who in fact owns the block. It has been a long and arduous process, one that Brad says has seen very little progress in seven years. 

“We don’t know what the hell is going on because nobody wants anything to do with it because it falls in the ‘too hard basket’. 

“I mean, we have supplied them with all the proof in the world, yet we have still gotten nowhere.” 

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