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The New Property Law Act – Most significant changes in 50 years

The Property Law Bill 2023 (‘the Bill”) will soon repeal the current Property Law Act 1974 (Qld), signifying a new era for property transactions in Queensland.

The Bill, which is expected to pass in September or October 2023 will modernize property law in Queensland, with the most significant changes seen to this area of law in 50 years.

Whilst the changes and reforms in the Bill are multifaceted and wide ranging, the creation of a new mandatory seller disclosure regime is perhaps the most significant for Queenslanders looking to sell or buy property.

Under the Bill, sellers (apart from those covered by a few specific exceptions) will be obliged to disclose particular information about the property prior to the contract being signed.

Approved forms and certificates will need to be attached to the contract, and the disclosures must be accurate. Many of these disclosures are already being obtained by prudent buyers, but under this regime, the onus will fall on the seller to provide the information at their own cost. Failing to provide accurate disclosures so can result in buyers choosing to terminating the contract.

Evan Sarinas, of Sarinas Legal, believes the changes are a positive step forward for buyers, who will be better informed as to the characteristics of the property they are buying. The changes in the disclosure regime for sellers will minimise surprises that might be revealed later on, and will provide both parties with more certainty and transparency during the property transaction.

What these changes won’t do is eliminate the need for independent searches and enquiries over a property.

Often these searches and enquiries reveal issues during the conveyancing process, which then leads to stress and pressure for the buyer, deciding how to proceed. Under the new seller disclosure regime, buyers will now have the benefit of receiving and considering basic necessary information about the property, before deciding to commit by bidding at auction or signing a contract.

Whilst these changes are welcomed by those involved in the conveyancing industry, it would be imprudent, in our opinion to rely purely on the disclosures made by the seller.

The level of enquiry into a property is ultimately a matter for the buyer, but we consider searches and enquiries to be a important investment into the proper due diligence of a purchase. It’s a relatively small price to pay for peace of mind, negotiation power, and being in a position to make fully-informed decisions about all relevant aspects of the property you are buying.

These disclosure changes will soon see the traditional sale and conveyancing process in Queensland looking and feeling quite different, at all stages of the transaction. Real Estate Agents will really need to work to be across the reforms to ensure compliance, and will need to work in close partnership with sellers to ensure the necessary disclosures are accurately made.

Recent electronic conveyancing changes have already brought Queensland’s Real Estate Agents into the 21st century, but the new Property Law Act will streamline the process even further.

For more information, please contact Sarinas Legal.

It is a complex area of contract law that requires a review of the specific contractual arrangements. Individual circumstances may apply. It is important to get specific legal advice.

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