Property Law Q&A with Anna Doughan

Anna Doughan, Property and Commercial Lawyer at Robertson Hyetts, answers some important questions asked before buying or selling property.

What new disclosure obligations do Vendors have when selling a property?

The Sale of Land Amendment Act 2019 came into effect on 1 March 2020.  This Act provides that a person must not knowingly conceal from a prospective purchaser any material facts about a property being sold.

What is a Material Fact?

A material fact is one which would be important to a purchaser in considering whether to purchase a property and which would ultimately influence that decision and the price they would pay.

A fact would be a ‘material fact’ if the fact results in the property being rare or unusual, or if knowledge of the fact would impact a potential purchaser’s willingness to purchase the property.  A fact may also be considered material if it is of particular significance to a purchaser such that the purchaser had specifically asked questions about the fact.  As a result, the sensitivities of particular purchasers need to be considered by vendors.

Some examples of a material fact could be if the property had:

– Restrictions on access during particular times;

– A history of contaminants used on the land such as agricultural chemicals;

– Previously been affected by a bushfire or flooding;

– Combustible cladding, asbestos or pest infestations;

– Building work done without the required permits;

– Been the scene of a serious crime such as a murder, extreme violence or used to manufacture illegal substances such as methylamphetamine or hazardous materials.

What are the Penalties of failing to disclose a material fact?

Any person who publishes any statement, promise or forecast which conceals any material fact and is found guilty could face a maximum penalty of $19,826.40 or up to 12 months imprisonment.   This could apply to vendors, their agents, solicitors or conveyancers.

Anna Doughan is a Commercial and Property Lawyer with Robertson Hyetts Solicitors. For further advice on all property and commercial matters please contact us on 5434 6666 or 5472 1588