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Queensland’s biggest property law shake-up in 50 years: REIQ flags some concerns

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has largely welcomed the state’s new property laws, but warned there are a few illogical and ambiguous provisions that remain.

The Queensland Government this week passed the Property Law Bill – the largest change to the legislation governing the property sector in 50 years.

While there were a raft of changes, the biggest include the introduction of a mandatory seller’s disclosure regime, changes to commercial leasing practices and alterations to how contracts for sale of land operate and settle.

““We have long-advocated for the introduction of a seller’s disclosure regime, on the basis that such a regime enhances, without inhibiting, the unique property landscape we have in Queensland,” REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella said.

“From a consistency and consumer protection standpoint, we recognise the benefits of a single statutory disclosure regime, ensuring it is easier for home buyers to make informed property buying decisions in Queensland.

“We have played an instrumental role in shaping the legislation to be more modern, practical, fairer, clearer, and inclusive and are proud to take significant credit for where it’s landed.

“In particular, we have been regarded for highlighting the importance of appropriate infrastructure to ensure all parties are reasonably able to find the required information.

“It has been our long-standing position that sellers in Queensland should only be required to disclose matters within a seller’s knowledge, or that are easily attainable by way of searches at nil or nominal cost.”

Ms Mercorella said the REIQ was also pleased to see provisions from its standard contract move into law that deal with the delay of settlement due to adverse events such as weather, a public health emergency, an act of terrorism, a war or similar.

But, despite all the good elements, there were still several concerning ones, including impractical and unnecessarily complex requirements associated with the provision of a disclosure statement at auctions.

Other matters the REIQ says have been “dangerously overlooked” include the counter-productive and regressive reintroduction of Community Management Statement (CMS) disclosure when selling lots in a Community Titles Scheme, and ambiguity regarding circumstances giving rise to buyer termination rights.

“It is disappointing that despite our repeated advice and unparalleled understanding of the way real estate transactions are facilitated in this state, that some material issues have not been duly addressed,” Ms Mercorella said.

“In the case of the disclosure requirements at auction, there will be an opportunity to review at the 12-month mark and we highly anticipate revisiting what we have warned will be impractical and unnecessarily complex requirements.

“The reintroduction of Community Management Statement (CMS) disclosure when selling lots in a Community Titles Scheme is an illogical, retrograde step that does not contribute value for a buyer.  

“This statutory requirement has been previously repealed, so it’s a case of bad history repeating itself. 

“Lastly, the Bill stipulates that a buyer may be entitled to terminate a contract of sale any time before settlement because the disclosure documents are not provided correctly, and we’re concerned about the ambiguity of how termination rights will apply with minor technical inaccuracies.”

The Queensland Government Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the modernised laws, including establishing the mandatory disclosure rules, would make it easier for buyers to purchase a home. 

She said the Bill also addressed areas of uncertainty and made improvements to several laws including an updated legal framework that reflects modern practice around electronic property transactions and the electronic creation and signing of deeds and the substantial clarification, modernisation and updates to provisions relating to leases.

Ms D’Ath said the new laws also clarify the powers of mortgagees and the protections for mortgagors; improved provisions that deal with issues and rights between neighbouring land; and simplify and update the common law rule against perpetuities.

“Buying or selling a property is a major financial decision, and these new laws will affect most Queenslanders at some stage in their lives,” she said.

“Our previous property laws hadn’t been subject to a comprehensive review and update in almost half a century and a lot has changed during that time.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government made an election commitment to review and modernise Queensland’s property laws.

“In particular, the new seller disclosure scheme will ensure buyers can make well-informed decisions before purchasing a property.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.