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BANGKOK 23 March 2019 11:54
tcp7

Property/sublease issue(s)/I've been conned!

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Greetings everyone,

 

Long time lurker on these forums, first time poster. Apologies in advance for the fairly broken engrrrrish, this isn't my mother tongue.

 

Long story short: In mid-2010 I have acquired a property in Pattaya, at the time, the house was sold to me through fairly reputable agents named "ABPC Alan Bolton Pattaya", the home of my dreams was at the tip of my fingers for a mere 3.2M THB which compared to the prices in my own country of origin was nothing so to speak.

 

At the time of the purchase it was briefly mentionned that foreigners were not allowed to own land under any circumstances, so the property purchase came-in with a fictious Co. Limited creation package which was handled from A to Z through their recommended lawyer, we'll name him Lawyer Bob for the sake of the story.

 

A couple of weeks later, the story checked out as I was handed out a folder filled with documents which were originals in Thai and translated in English for the most part, from what I could understand what they had done was indeed creating a Co. Ltd with a random name, registered it at the Chon Buri bureau of Business and I was appointed as CEO.

 

Apart from being the CEO, the lawyer also provided two other persons who were the nominees owning 33% each of the company shares, so at that point it was me, the CEO owning 33% of the shares, the lawyer set himself as nominee as another 33% of the shareholders and then one of his employees owned the last 33% of the shares for a grand total off 99% of the companies shares, fair and square.

 

I received the title deed and it reflected the Co. Ltd. being the owner of my property, I was only informed that as a registered company I had to do yearly balance sheets in order to maintain the company in good standings in regards to the law, for that matter, the lawyer charges me 13.500 THB a year and he handles it all.

 

A couple of days later I have received another documents stating that the lawyer and the 3rd nominee had both resigned their participation in the company and have retroceeded me as the CEO their shares, I currently am declared as the CEO of a company who owns 99% of the company's shares and I am listed alone in the shareholders list, so this is good from what I understand.

 

Everything went fine and I have "lived happily ever after" from 2010 until mid 2017.

 

About 6 years later where the relationship with the girlfriend ended up in turmoil, she has been nothing but a pain in the rear as we officially broke up, we no longer are in good terms.

 

During these years, I had been a gracious man and let the ex girlfriend's sister live in the house for FREE, no rent to pay whatsoever, as long as she was paying her utility bills and taking care of the property, which she assured me she was doing... I believed her like the fool I was.

 

As I returned early 2018 to check what had happened to my property, I had the displeasant and very unfortunate discover that the sister stole and sold out pretty much anything she could get away with, you name it; TVs, aircons, fans, etc, etc, etc, a lot of stuff pretty much, she had done major damage to the property in several rooms, broke no less than 187 tiles in the swimming pool and to top it off, she stole the title deed to cause I don't know what damage.

 

As I removed her from my property and didn't want to report her to the police, I had high hopes the events would end there, the fool I was.

 

Please understand me, these were dire circumstances; We were in March 2018, I was completly broke, my visa was about to run out, my flight back to my country was due 2 days later the ticket couldn't be changed or refunded, I neither had the technical skills to fix my property nor the funds to do so, the house was in a such disarray, the swimming pool was filled with green ooze, the neighbors were complaining about the stench on a weekly basis if not daily and the title deed was gone.

 

Given the aforementionned circumstances; renting the house in that condition was out of the question, selling the property without having the title deed (within the next 2 days mind you) was totally impossible. I was stuck, literally stuck.

 

As I was in a terrible situation, the real estate building contractor who is in charge of several houses in our muban in Pattaya approached me and made me an offer that was too good to pass and this is where the REAL problems started:

 

He walked up to me and asked me "You can't possibly rent your property, you can't sell it without the title deed and you are leaving back to your home country, what are you going to do?", I bluntly replied "Well I have no idea to be honest so I don't know what to tell you?" and here was his offer I couldn't pass up at the time:

 

He made me sign an agreement that what I believe is called a sublease, the weird part of it is that the original documents he made me sign on the 2018/03/06 were written in both Thai and English but were really bleached out as if they were poor quality copies of copies and copies, at the time I was 42 years old, knowing the Thai retirement visa is at 50 years he proposed me the following deal:

 

"You sign these documents, on our end we will fix all the damage in your property, repaint it, rewire it, fix the broken water pumps, the leaking water tanks and baththubs, fix the locked doors and everything that needs to be done FOR FREE, in return we rent out your property for the next SEVEN years until you reach the eligible age for a Retirement Visa in Thailand which is 50 years old, in terms of compensation, we will wire you 100.000 THB per year starting on the 2nd year until the 7th year, until the end of the contract, the first year 2018-2019 you will not receive any monetary compensation from us but instead as we mentionned, we will fix your property and refresh it to today's standards".

 

At the time, I thought this was a decent bargain because again I did not have the technical skills (I am a disabled person), nor the funds to repair it throughly and mainly my flight out of Thailand was within the next 48 hours.

 

So I accepted the deal and signed the documents.

 

One of the things that should have struck my attention is when I signed the documents, they were 2 identical documents, one which mentionned it was for an initial period of 4 years and the second one was for a period of 3 years, 4+3 totalling 7 years. When I enquired why I had to sign 2 documents and not just 1, I was simply told that "This is a normal procedure and that's how things are done in Thailand". As I was a tiny skeptical, they told me, we know your lawyer Mr. Bob, feel free to call him, we're using the same lawyer, it's Mr. Bob so if there's any issues, you can always call him, he will advise you rightly so.

 

Reminding you this is the same lawyer I've been using since 2010, who created the company, was an original nominee and is always in good terms with me as I pay him 13.500 THB every year to do the fictious company balance sheet. So at that stage, I had no reasons to doubt anything.

 

I returned to my home country and after doing some extensive research I have been hinted by several parties that the contracts I had signed were absolutely not legal for the simple reason that leases and subleases are for a maximum of 3 years in Thailand, not 7.

 

I have been more or less furious ever since and have returned to Thailand, when I reached out to the contractor's company and asked again "How come you never gave me a copy of the contracts we have signed on the 6th of March? I find it a bit strange that only you have a copy of these contracts but you never gave my own copy?".

 

They started denying it, claiming that on the date we had signed, they handed me out a copy of the signed contracts, I kept telling them, you are lying he said to me "We already gave you your copy we have nothing else to give you and nothing to discuss, the matter is closed, come back in 7 years!".

 

I then confronted them asking why would they make me sign 2 differents contracts one for 4 years and one for 3 years instead of a single contract for 7 years? He stared at me with very angry eyes and shouted my way "We've already told you before this is how things are done in Thailand!!!" while he was beginning to be physically intimidating (I am a disabled person, mind you).

 

When I bluntly told him "I have all the reasons to believe these contracts are fraudulous and I will sue you over them", he slammed his office's door to my face and that was it. We haven't spoken since.

 

I am not going to dwelve into any more details any further but my financial situation in Thailand has drastically changed to the point I am not able to afford to pay any rent above 4.500 THB a month, currently living with the new girlfriend, the Thai way, small room, bugs, ants and cockroaches everywhere, one single fan, no aircon, Thai style toilets and cold shower farm style, so either paying a huge rent on a decent condo room or renting another house is currently out of our budget.

 

On my end I have done the first step which was obviously to reach to our common Thai lawyer Mr. Bob who basically refuses to be of any assistance, he says, he is my lawyer but he also is their lawyer and therefore there is in his eyes an obvious "conflict of interest". He doesn't want to get involved any further even though I suspect if he was to get involved, he would rather defend their side as it is a known fact, Thais do defend Thais just as the court always rule in favor of the Thais.

 

My last resort was to hire another lawyer we'll call him Mr. Jim, but he's a criminal law lawyer, he was recommended by the current girlfriend, the guy is rather nice and helpful, family father, sensible to my case as he had a disabled child who passed away, however he appears pretty useless to me, the guy took his 10.000 baht fees and that was it.

 

Mr. Jim went to the contractors company and forced them to provide a copy of the contracts I had signed with them, to my surprise they handed him the contracts, and there are a few irks about these:

 

First of all, the copies we were given look like brand new papers, freshly printed out, they are absolutely nothing alike the dirty washed out documents I originally signed back in March 2018, these copies are brand cleaned freshly printed out documents, my signatures on each page are not original pencil ink but were rather scanned then printed out.

 

Then the most striking part, is, the contracts are no longer 4+3 years or 3+4 years for a total of 7 years but actually are 3+2 years for a total of 5 years... what the actual f-word?!?

 

I have informed my new lawyer Mr. Jim that these contracts are forged at best and the signatures even though very much look alike mine are not handrawns but scans taken from I don't know where and that 5 years are neither 7 years nor 3 years as the law states.

 

The current new lawyer proposed the following strategy: He asks me to patiently wait until next week, the 2019/03/06 which will be the anniversary date of the contract, claim the promised 100.000 THB for the 2nd year 2019-2020, if they refuse to pay, expell them and sue them break the contract by sending what he calls a "Termination notice" for unpaid rent, if they accept to pay the 100.000 THB then expell them with a "Termination notice" and use most likely use their own 100.000 THB to pay for the court expenses.

 

At this point, I have completly ran out of ideas, I am not sure that going to court is going to do me any good as I am afraid a judge could start digging in the Co. Ltd documents and realize this is an empty shell of a company that has been created by the first lawyer Mr. Bob with the lawyer Mr. Bob himself as a nominee with the sole intent of circumventing the law in order to acquire said property as a foreigner.

 

The questions are:

 

1) Is there any differences between an individual in Thai law and a CEO? The phrasing is rather poor but the logic would be; I did sign these documents as an individual, me, myself and I, however the property isn't technically mine to begin with, it belongs to my company. Is there a difference in Thai law? Could I use that argument to void these contracts?

 

2) Upon the signature of these contracts, I did sign every single page but not one single one of these pages has received my company's stamp, given the house technically belongs to my company, without the proper company stamps to legalize these documents, could they be argued as void and/or invalid?

 

3) Upon the signature of these contracts, they were no witnesses, I am getting used to this whole "two Thai witnesses" ordeal whenever you're supposed to do something legal in Thailand, could the fact of missing witnesses be playing in my favor somehow by nullifying the contracts?

 

4) Can my second lawyer Mr. Jim really send what he calls a "Termination notice" that easily and get them off my property? That easily? And if so, what is the most likely outcome?

 

5) If a case is brought to a court, what are the odds a judge peeks into the company's statuses and I get in legal trouble over it? Read: huge fine, detained, jailed, company dismantled, expelled or banned from Thailand or loss of the house?

 

6) From what I understand their first year of rent for the paltry sum of 100.000 THB is due on the upcoming 6th of March, as we speak, they technically have no ways to reach me other than by-email, could it be in my interest to intentively not being "reachable" on purpose then breaking the contracts on the sole base that they never paid their rent? Sneaky logic but could that even be pulled off? Hide in the wilderness, not receive the yearly rent and use that as an excuse to break off said contracts.

 

My new lawyer Mr. Jim wants to go to court and sue them, but I am not sure under what pretense in regards to the Thai law? But this whole 3+4=7 years, turning out to be 3+2=5 years while in fact the law states the subleases are for a maximum of 3 years are these legal grounds to declare these contracts void?

 

I am at the moment in a disarray state and could end up homeless should the new girlfriend decide to kick me out of her room, I find it sad and disgusting the way I have been treated this far in the land of smiles and it makes no sense whatsoever that I have to live in a small dirty room while in my mind I am the owner of a property in Pattaya.

 

Could anyone recommend a good lawyer? What's my most efficient course of action here?

 

Thanks and sorry for the lengthy post. I need your help.

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Interesting that you claim to be flat broke but have engaged many different lawyers.  Where did you get the money to pay their upfront retainers?

 

Why don't you just go and stay in your house?

 

Must be better than a dirty little room?

Edited by Khaeng Mak
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I'm not saying that I am super flat broke, but living with a monthly budget of 35.000 THB while having medical expenses, isn't what I could call "wealthy" either. As for the first lawyer Mr. Bob when I originally acquired the property and created the company this was in 2010, my financial situation was rather good back then. The new lawyer Mr. Jim only paid him 10.000 THB and we (the new girlfriend and myself) ate Mama noodles and cheap street food for the rest of January.

 

Either way your post contained very little help... if you see what I mean.

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6 minutes ago, Khaeng Mak said:

Why don't you just go and stay in your house?

 

Must be better than a dirty little room?

Because it's being sub-rented out to 2 Koreans guys and 2 Koreans girls as we speak.

 

I can't just walk up to my property, break the keylocks and move in as I please, that would be too easy.

Edited by tcp7

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Has it ever occurred to you to ask the people who hold the original contract documents to make you a copy?  Is it possible that the deal you made was legit and you have become paranoid and over-reacted?

 

My advise to you is to try and restore your relationship with the person you have made the contract with and live up to your end of the agreement.  

 

This does not appear to be an attempt to scam you...could it be you now want to return to your "remodelled" condo and void the contract?  

 

Perhaps it would help us to understand your position if we knew your nationality.

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FYI: In Thailand you are not a CEO you are the company director and signee for the company. Next, it is highly unlikely any court would delve into the background of the company. The nominees, etc., are not the crux of the lawsuit. Fraud is what the law suit is about. Let attorney Jim go forward with the "Demand for Payment" letter relative to the monies coming due you next month if in the event they are not paid on time. Also, take your Thai girlfriend and go to the Land Office of jurisdiction to obtain a copy of the title to assure that there have been no encumbrances, liens etc., filed against the property since this whole fiasco started.  I tell you to take your girlfriend because no one speaks English at the Land office. You may have to make application to obtain an original title and may have to file a Police report on the missing title. In addition, have your attorney send a letter to the Koreans who are currently occupying the property informing them that they are there illegally and must vacate. This is Thailand, you need to have a competent attorney when signing any contracts and in particular when the contract relates to property rental, use etc. In my experience as an attorney here in Thailand I believe that you have a very good chance to prevail in a court of law or at an court ordered arbitration hearing. Good luck.

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13 hours ago, tcp7 said:

I am not sure that going to court is going to do me any good as I am afraid a judge could start digging in the Co. Ltd documents and realize this is an empty shell of a company that has been created by the first lawyer Mr. Bob with the lawyer Mr. Bob himself as a nominee with the sole intent of circumventing the law in order to acquire said property as a foreigner.

 

29 minutes ago, bangkoken said:

Next, it is highly unlikely any court would delve into the background of the company. The nominees, etc., are not the crux of the lawsuit. Fraud is what the law suit is about.

tcp7; 

I think you are right to be worried about the judge/court delving into your company formation and the fact that it is an illegal nominee company does not stand you in good stead.

 

Despite what another poster has written, in almost a carbon copy of your case, a friend took his lawyer to court because the lawyer had forged signatures and had gotten a new chanote issued for my friends Villa, then sold it!

 

Fraud, pure and simple in anyone's language, so my friend was expecting a good outcome, however the judge ruled that as my friend had originally purchased the property through a nominee company, then he had purchased it illegally and in doing so was not the legal owner, and he threw the case out because my friend not being the legal owner had no legal right to the property.

 

Certainly not what my friend expected as it was a clear case of fraud, by the sound of it much clearer than your claim, and he was left with nothing.

 

So I'm thinking that your new lawyer may well be your best bet and to trust in him, if you can.

 

If you still have the deeds to the property somewhere, or can obtain a copy, then you could use some strong arm tactics to get the current renters out of the place and move back in yourself. There isn't a lot others can do about this as you have deeds to the property and as they are not likely to win anything by going to court, you won't have a judge delving into your affairs, but you will have the deeds and the right of occupation.

 

Should someone wish to produce the original rental documents, with your signatures, and they don't match those which they have given your new lawyer, then they stand a chance to fail in their efforts to hold you to it.

 

So sad that you should have to go through this, however this sort of thing is what I have warned about on other threads and not just through the nominee company structure, because there are other quasi legal structures put in place by smart lawyers, but underneath all that they actually contravene Thai law with regards to land/property ownership in one way or another, despite what the "owners" of these companies argue.

 

Please keep us informed as to the outcome because there will be other people looking at this thread who may find themselves in a similar situation.

 

And good luck with whatever you decide to do.
 

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Phew!!...what a mess.

 

Sure hope you manage to sort it all out.

 

I wish I had some specific ideas to pass onto you but alas I don't , this is out of my league.

 

All I can do is wish you good luck

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15 hours ago, tcp7 said:

Long story short:

How does this apply? 

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Hello,

Very sad, your story.
Some embassies have a list of lawyers from their country.
Even if you can not practice in Thailand, you're in tandem with Thais lawyers.
Check with your embassy.
You have nothing to lose, so try it.
Good luck.

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2 hours ago, bangkoken said:

FYI: In Thailand you are not a CEO you are the company director and signee for the company. Next, it is highly unlikely any court would delve into the background of the company. The nominees, etc., are not the crux of the lawsuit. Fraud is what the law suit is about. Let attorney Jim go forward with the "Demand for Payment" letter relative to the monies coming due you next month if in the event they are not paid on time. Also, take your Thai girlfriend and go to the Land Office of jurisdiction to obtain a copy of the title to assure that there have been no encumbrances, liens etc., filed against the property since this whole fiasco started.  I tell you to take your girlfriend because no one speaks English at the Land office. You may have to make application to obtain an original title and may have to file a Police report on the missing title. In addition, have your attorney send a letter to the Koreans who are currently occupying the property informing them that they are there illegally and must vacate. This is Thailand, you need to have a competent attorney when signing any contracts and in particular when the contract relates to property rental, use etc. In my experience as an attorney here in Thailand I believe that you have a very good chance to prevail in a court of law or at an court ordered arbitration hearing. Good luck.

Thanks for very much for your insight. For what it is worth we started following your advice:

 

- About a month ago we went to the Banglamung Land Office and got copies of the original title deed, these contain no other inscriptions whatsoever since I purchased the property back in 2010 which is a good sign.

 

- We went to the Pattaya police station and reported the original chanut title deed was missing, (we reported it as lost, discarded property).

 

- With the police report we were able to produce it back at the Banglamung Land Office and they have accepted it, we tipped (3.000 THB) the guy working at the land office so he'd side with us, he escalated the case to his supervisors, she handed us out two pieces of papers and told us to deliver each one of them to the Amphoe and the Pattaya City Hall.

 

- We delivered the one at the Amphoe without issues whatsoever and received an approval stamp, it took less than 5 minutes to get it.

 

- We then delivered the second one to the Pattaya City Hall and were informed that we were due 60.000 THB in unpaid taxes at the City Hall! No one ever informed me during all these years that there were taxes that were due at the City Hall, the original property owner never mentioned anything, the real estate company didn't either, even my original lawyer Mr. Bob never said anything about taxes.

 

- So we are at a step where the Banglamung Land Office cannot issue a new fresh title deed until the Pattaya City Hall gives us their stamped approval and on their side the Pattaya City Hall won't issue the aforementionned required stamp until the 60.000 baht taxes have been paid up.

 

At this point I am waiting to receive the 100.000 THB rent for the 2019-2020 year and use these 100.000 THB to pay the owed 60.000 THB taxes and then 60 days later the Banglamung Land Office should deliver us a brand new "chanut" title deed, that is the current plan.

 

If you happen to have decent lawyers contacts who know the law and aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, let me know. Mr. Jim the new lawyer is pretty good but in criminal cases only, as we speak he's in Yasothorn defending a customer who has been charged with murder. That's the kind of lawyer he is, this property BS is far from his field of expertise.

 

My inner guts are telling me that if I had some big top dogs lawyers showing up to their company's doors, armed with a book of law telling them that the contracts I have signed are void for whatever reason they'd pipe down.

 

As for the Koreans living in the property as we speak, they cannot communicate in Thai, their English is very limited but I managed to get from them the information that they were here only for 3 days, this hinted me: I spoke with the other neighbors who know me very well and was told that they would see new tenants on a weekly basis.

 

I then investigated further and found my property listed on Agoda, Airbnb, Tripadvisor and such sites and it is rented out 2.000 THB a night.

 

And that's where we are at right now. Still puzzled on what to do.

Edited by tcp7

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1 hour ago, xylophone said:

 

tcp7; 

I think you are right to be worried about the judge/court delving into your company formation and the fact that it is an illegal nominee company does not stand you in good stead.

 

Despite what another poster has written, in almost a carbon copy of your case, a friend took his lawyer to court because the lawyer had forged signatures and had gotten a new chanote issued for my friends Villa, then sold it!

 

Fraud, pure and simple in anyone's language, so my friend was expecting a good outcome, however the judge ruled that as my friend had originally purchased the property through a nominee company, then he had purchased it illegally and in doing so was not the legal owner, and he threw the case out because my friend not being the legal owner had no legal right to the property.

 

Certainly not what my friend expected as it was a clear case of fraud, by the sound of it much clearer than your claim, and he was left with nothing.

 

So I'm thinking that your new lawyer may well be your best bet and to trust in him, if you can.

 

If you still have the deeds to the property somewhere, or can obtain a copy, then you could use some strong arm tactics to get the current renters out of the place and move back in yourself. There isn't a lot others can do about this as you have deeds to the property and as they are not likely to win anything by going to court, you won't have a judge delving into your affairs, but you will have the deeds and the right of occupation.

 

Should someone wish to produce the original rental documents, with your signatures, and they don't match those which they have given your new lawyer, then they stand a chance to fail in their efforts to hold you to it.

 

So sad that you should have to go through this, however this sort of thing is what I have warned about on other threads and not just through the nominee company structure, because there are other quasi legal structures put in place by smart lawyers, but underneath all that they actually contravene Thai law with regards to land/property ownership in one way or another, despite what the "owners" of these companies argue.

 

Please keep us informed as to the outcome because there will be other people looking at this thread who may find themselves in a similar situation.

 

And good luck with whatever you decide to do.
 

So according to what you're stating here, because the property was acquired in an obviously fradulous way, there are risks of losing said property should I decide to bring it up to a court of law?

 

Given the circumstances what would be the legal penalty for it?

 

Also can all of this be avoided if I happen to marry the new girlfriend and sell her the property and dismantle the company? Shouldn't the problem go away along with the subleases contracts as the future wife-to-be become owner of the property?

 

Also, I have trust in the new lawyer, it's just that property/sale/lease/rentals aren't his field of expertise.

 

Thank you for your input though.

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1 hour ago, ThaiPauly said:

Phew!!...what a mess.

 

Sure hope you manage to sort it all out.

 

I wish I had some specific ideas to pass onto you but alas I don't , this is out of my league.

 

All I can do is wish you good luck

Thank you, much appreciated.

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44 minutes ago, sirocco said:

Hello,

Very sad, your story.
Some embassies have a list of lawyers from their country.
Even if you can not practice in Thailand, you're in tandem with Thais lawyers.
Check with your embassy.
You have nothing to lose, so try it.
Good luck.

My embassy has been rather useless this far... sadly.

Thank you for the idea though.

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10 minutes ago, tcp7 said:

So according to what you're stating here, because the property was acquired in an obviously fradulous way, there are risks of losing said property should I decide to bring it up to a court of law?

 

Given the circumstances what would be the legal penalty for it?

 

Also can all of this be avoided if I happen to marry the new girlfriend and sell her the property and dismantle the company? Shouldn't the problem go away along with the subleases contracts as the future wife-to-be become owner of the property?

 

Also, I have trust in the new lawyer, it's just that property/sale/lease/rentals aren't his field of expertise.

 

Thank you for your input though.

I do believe there is a possibility that a judge could find that you have no legal right to the property, which is what happened to my friend, however it is purely potluck here, as we know and if the previous lawyer and his "rental cohorts" are able to "influence" the decision, then they surely will.

 

The last I heard from my friend was that he had lost his Villa, because he had no legal right to it, so that has to be seen as a worst-case scenario for your situation. Having said that, it is just my opinion based on a very similar case.

 

As for your second point about marrying your new girlfriend and selling her the property, then that is surely something to broach with your new lawyer because it does seem like a possible outlet, however who is to know if those sublease contracts become null and void if the property is sold – – perhaps there is a clause or two in there which excludes/covers that event?

 

Before you go marrying your girlfriend and selling her the property, you should also broach the subject of repossessing your property by evicting the renters (by whichever means possible without violence) and/or moving in, because that puts the onus on those people you signed the subleases with to be able to come up with some concrete evidence/proof that everything they did was above board and legal, and if it wasn't, there is every possibility that they won't take it any further.

 

I think you also mentioned about waiting for a payment on March 6th, so before you do anything, you should surely wait for that date to arrive because if there is a non-payment, you can decide what action to take, along with your new lawyer.

 

As I have mentioned before and you have said here, I do believe you have to put some trust in your new lawyer and although this area might not be in his field of expertise, as you say, what you are really dealing with is a potentially fraudulent contract, which he should know something about.

 

I hope this helps. 


 

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