Our experienced team can assist with all your conveyancing and property law needs and will work with you to ensure your transaction proceeds as seamlessly as possible.
Conveyancing in Queensland
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the title to real estate from one party to another. It generally concerns one of our largest financial transactions, yet the process typically moves quickly providing no room for error.
Signing a contract to buy or sell property creates binding obligations between the parties – the penalties for default on a contract can be significant so it is important to understand the legal implications before entering such arrangements. This involves conducting due diligence before purchasing, preparing a compliant contract and being aware of your legal obligations as a seller, and understanding the terms and conditions of the contract generally.
We can help with all stages of Queensland property transactions whether you are selling or buying a home, unit, vacant block, strata title, commercial or rural property.
Potential pitfalls for purchasers
As one of your largest financial transactions, it makes sense to be guided by a conveyancing and property expert before signing a contract to buy a home or investment property. By engaging us early in the process, we can help you make informed decisions, guide you step-by-step throughout the conveyancing process, and avoid common pitfalls, like the examples below.
The transfer of risk
Many buyers are surprised to learn that, in most cases, the risk for a property moves to the purchaser from 5.00 pm on the next business day after signing the contract, even though the purchaser is not yet in possession of the property. While the seller has an obligation until settlement to take reasonable care of the property, it is essential for purchasers to obtain an insurance cover note over the property as soon as they have signed the contract.
Be aware of unapproved structures
It is common for homeowners to renovate their properties by adding structures like garages, patios, and pools, etc. Often these structures are built without obtaining formal approval from a local government authority, as required by law. In such cases, an unsuspecting buyer may proceed with the purchase only to find that their new property is going to cost them more than anticipated to obtain the necessary approvals from council for an already existing structure.
Clause 7.6 of the Houses & Residential Land Contract stipulates that any valid notice issued by a competent authority or court (i.e., local council) requiring work to be done must be fully complied with:
- if issued before the contract date, by the seller before the settlement date; or
- if issued on or after the contract date, by the buyer.
To protect buyers from assuming liability for unapproved structures, we recommend including a special condition in the contract that allows the buyer to terminate if such a structure is identified, and searches are undertaken as part of the conveyancing process to ascertain whether such structures exist.
Time is essential
Time is expressly of the essence under the REIQ contracts in Queensland which means you must perform your obligations strictly by the due date and time. If time limits are not strictly complied with, you can lose legal rights or the other party may exercise legal rights against you.
Failure by either party to perform the contract by the due date, unless properly excused, will be a breach of an essential term and entitle the other party to sue for specific performance or terminate the contract without further notice.
Essentially this means that a buyer cannot extend the settlement date stipulated under the contract unless the seller agrees.
Retirement villages generally provide low-maintenance accommodation with access to certain services and facilities for retirees and older people. When a person is contemplating retirement living, village operators must provide certain information to help them compare villages and services and to understand their financial obligations under the proposed arrangements. This information should include a breakdown of fees and charges, mandatory funds, the type of accommodation and services available, exit fees and processes for re-sale and dispute resolution. The residence contract sets out the legal rights and responsibilities of the resident and the retirement village and should be carefully reviewed.
Commercial and retail leasing
A commercial lease governs the relationship between a lessor (landlord) and lessee (tenant) regarding the lessee’s right to occupy commercial premises to run its business. The lease agreement should be in writing and drafted to ensure the terms are balanced and reasonable. Each party should obtain independent legal advice to ensure the provisions are suitable for their needs.
Certain retail premises in Queensland are governed by the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 which aims to enhance consumer protection for lessees. It sets out minimum terms for lease agreements and promotes transparency and fairness in the retail leasing industry. The Act generally applies to premises located in a retail shopping centre and/or that are used wholly or predominantly for conducting a retail business. Lessors must ensure that their leasing arrangements comply with the provisions of the Act which also requires them to provide prescribed disclosure information to prospective lessees.
Commercial leasing disputes generally arise because the parties are not fully aware of their rights and responsibilities, the terms of the lease are unclear, or the lease does not provide for certain contingencies. Obtaining legal advice from the outset can help put the parties on the same page and minimise potential disputes down the track.