A Queensland family who paid $1.26 million for their dream home and lived there for five years are devastated after learning they never legally owned the property.
Jess and Jacqueline Morecroft are demanding compensation from the State Government after their home at Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast was returned to its previous owners due to an alleged fraudulent mortgage scheme.
The couple, who raised their two young daughters in the three-bedroom property, were devastated to learn it had never belonged to them.
In September 2018, the previous owner alleged that the house was illegally mortgaged as security for a loan by a relative who later defaulted.
In February, the Supreme Court of Queensland ruled that the mortgage was procured through another person’s fraud, now null and void.
The court found that the Morecrofts had no ‘legal interest’ in the property as it had not been formally transferred to their names, only an ‘equitable interest’.
The home recently sold at auction on June 16 for $2.6 million, with the couple not receiving a cent despite buying it in 2018 and paying all the bills.
Jess Morecroft, 43, and Jacqueline Morecroft, 47, are seeking compensation from the State Government after their Mermaid Beach home was returned to its previous owners due to an alleged fraudulent mortgage scheme (The Morecrofts in 2018).
‘In five years, we’ll go straight from owning a home and having money in the bank to being robbed of everything we’ve worked for our entire careers,’ Mr Morecroft, 43, told the Courier Mail.
The family, who moved into the rental in March, were told the Mermaid Beach property came with a caveat – another party might have claimed the house.
However, the Morecrofts say six months later they were told the caveat was removed and they moved, even though the property was never put in their name.
In September 2018, the couple was sued by the previous owner who alleged that a relative had fraudulently mortgaged the property in his name without his consent.
Despite the legal process, the family lived in the house for another five years and even renovated the garage into a rumpus room for the kids.
Rate notices and bills continued to be addressed under other names, but the Morecrofts continued to pay them within court proceedings.
In February 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that the Morecrofts were owed $2,751,666.32 in damages for breach of contract and ordered the state government to pay.
Morecroft, who raised their two young daughters in the three-bedroom home, was devastated to learn the property (pictured) had never belonged to them.
The judgment held that ‘the State is liable … to compensate the purchasers because they have been deprived of their just interest in the property … by reason of another person’s fraud’.
However, the government proposed an ancillary order requiring the couple to first recover damages against the original owner and then pay one-third of the owner’s costs and one-third of the government’s costs.
The Morecrofts say it will be a ‘devastating’ financial and personal loss they may never recover.
Last week, six registered bidders vied for the Mermaid Beach home.
The property sold for $1,395,000 more than what the family had paid five years ago and had previously sold for $775,000 in August, 2003.
Despite the legal process, the family lived in the house for another five years and even renovated the garage into a rumpus room for the kids (pictured).
The Morecrofts, who have spent more than $300,000 in legal fees for the house, are now seeking compensation from the state government.
In May, they started a petition that has since garnered more than 17,000 signatures.
The couple wrote, ‘As innocent victims were caught in this terrible situation, we have been awarded compensation by the court.’
‘However, the Queensland Government decided to appeal the decision, claiming we were not entitled to compensation as we were never registered property owners and were not direct victims of the fraud.’
The family thanked friends, neighbours, the local community and people they had never met for their continued support during the ordeal.
‘We are very humbled to know that you all stand behind us in our fight for justice.’
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