Queensland introduces Property Law Bill to parliament

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has slammed the Queensland Government’s decision to introduce a bill implementing a formal seller disclosure regime before resolving what it claims are outstanding questions.

The Property Law Bill, introduced this week, seeks to create a uniform statutory seller disclosure regime in the state.

It will replace the Property Law Act 1974, which the government says has not been comprehensively reformed since it was introduced.

The new scheme will make it mandatory for a seller of freehold land to disclose relevant information to the buyer in a single document along with any prescribed certificates, including a body corporate certificate, where relevant.

Attorney-General, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman, said that the new scheme would ensure the state’s property laws were fit for purpose.

“The new seller disclosure scheme will simplify disclosure for freehold land sales and empower buyers to make well-informed decisions when purchasing property,” Ms Fentiman said.

The minister said there had been an extensive consultation process leading up to the Bill’s introduction.

“The development of the Bill has been the subject of extensive consultation with stakeholders over several years, and I want to thank them for their ongoing involvement and valuable expertise,” she said.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella acknowledged that there had been a multi-year consultation process leading up to the introduction of the Property Law Bill, to which the REIQ had been a party to, but said her organisation still had several outstanding “material” concerns about the Bill.

She said her organisation supported the introduction of such a scheme in principle but this was subject to the establishment of appropriate disclosure parameters, reasonable costs and accessibility to information associated with disclosure requirements.

“We recognise the benefits associated with a single statutory disclosure regime ensuring all buyers have access to appropriate information to make informed decisions when buying property in Queensland, but this must be balanced with relevant and clearly defined disclosure requirements,” Ms Mercorella said.

She said the Property Law Bill had been introduced before a period of stakeholder consultation had concluded.

“We are the peak body for real estate professionals in Queensland, with an unparalleled understanding of the way real estate transactions are facilitated in this state, so it’s alarming that the proposed legislation has been introduced into Parliament while we are still in the process of working through key stakeholder consultation.”

The REIQ has raised concerns about what it says are the Bill’s impractical and unnecessarily complex disclosure requirements at auction; ambiguity over which situations would give rise to buyer termination rights; the requirement for sellers to disclose unregistered encumbrances; and a lack of clarity around flood-related disclosures.

Ms Mercorella said among the REIQ’s material concerns with the Property Law Bill was the proposal to require disclosure documents be provided in different ways depending on whether a bidder arrived before or just after the commencement of an auction.

“The proposed requirements are unnecessarily complicated and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the principles of an auction sale,” she said.

Ms Mercorella said passing the legislation before all concerns were addressed could be a costly decision.

“As the state peak body for real estate, we know that the ‘wrong’ disclosure regime will add unnecessary expense and delays to the selling and buying process for Queenslanders,” Ms Mercorella said.

“Given the significance of real estate to the Queensland economy and the housing crisis we are facing, this is simply too critical an issue to rush this process through at the last minute.”

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