What if I find out after buying the place, that there is something built without Council approval?
A. It will be too late to do anything with the Seller! The current version of the standard REIQ Contract does not provide for Council approvals, only for building and pest inspections. It may be that the entire building is well constructed, and that is all your Building Inspector is checking. If you want to ensure that everything is Council approved, then you will need a Special Condition to that effect written into the Contract. Unless you so request, your Solicitor will not even search for Building Approvals and Certifications because nothing in the Contract turns upon this issue. Care should be taken in the Moreton Bay Regional Council area for a Council inspection is conducted of properties sold, endeavouring to identify any non-compliance with Local Laws relevant to building permits. Astute Agents in that area usually do include the relevant Special Condition.
Is there anything I should know about the Building and Pest Inspection Clause?
A. Yes, this is a “sudden death” clause - one second beyond the deadline hour of 5.00pm and the Seller can terminate. The Buyer must give notice one way or the other before that deadline but the Buyer’s right to give notice continues until the Seller terminates. Our advice – don’t risk it. To rely upon this Clause to terminate the Contract, you must show that your dissatisfaction with the Report is reasonable and if called upon, produce the Report to identify the issue that you have. “Reasonable” is a subjective word and no doubt some Buyers will argue something very minor is unacceptable. If the issue was obvious and should have been seen upon inspection by a reasonable and prudent person, it would be arguable that relying upon that matter later to terminate the Contract would be unreasonable.
Do I need to specify in the Contract which Building Inspector I will use?
No. Whether it is one or the other is not material.
What if termites are found in a tree in the yard, or the fence?
You can terminate, for both are improvements on the land and the Building and Pest Inspection Report will apply.
What about swimming pools – what should I check?
A. Yes, this is another “sudden death” clause - one second beyond the deadline hour of 5.00pm and the Seller can terminate. The Contract is now conditional upon the existence of a Pool Safety Certificate. If there is none, the Buyer is to organize an inspection and provide a report of the results by the Pool Safety Inspection Date. If a Pool Safety Certificate has not issued by that Date, then the Buyer may terminate or waive that condition but if the Buyer does not give this Notice, the Seller may terminate. If the Seller does not terminate then the Buyer’s right continues until the Seller gives notice but if the Buyer gets in first with a Pool Safety Certificate, albeit late, then the Seller’s right to terminate ceases.
When I sell my home, can I take the dishwasher?
Generally no, because dishwaters are normally fixtures, i.e. “hard” wired or plumbed. If you want to remove it, this should be clearly pointed out to prospective Buyers and then reference made in the contract.
Why is there reference to electrical safety switches in the Sale Contract?
Because this is now the law – an enforcement process for safety reasons.
What if the house has an old “fibro” roof and I later find out it is asbestos?
Too late, because unless you have a Special Condition in the Contract, it is not an issue upon which you can terminate. However, the Building and Pest Inspection Report should have picked this up, and you may think that a reasonable and prudent person would be unhappy with that on “reasonable” grounds.
What if the place has no fencing and I want to put one up?
If you want the Seller to attend to this before settlement, then it will have to be a term of the Contract. After settlement, you will have no claim against the Seller at all, and will have to deal with the neighbour in the usual way.
What if I find out that the neighbours wanted to construct or repair a fence, and there had been letters exchanged before I bought the place?
In the Contract Terms, the Seller must disclose whether or not the premises are affected by an Application to or an Order made by QCAT under the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011 about a tree on the land in respect of which there is a dispute. But that is as far as it goes. As regards fences, the Buyers are on their own and no claim can be made unless a Special Condition covers this subject.