Queensland’s Property Laws Receive Once-in-a Generation Overhaul

The Property Law Act 2023 passed Queensland Parliament in October; a pivotal piece of legislation aimed at overhauling the state’s property laws which has been governed by the Property Law Act 1974 for nearly five decades.

The Act is the culmination of an extensive five-year review by the Commercial and Property Law Research Centre at the Queensland University of Technology, which contributed 232 recommendations. The recommendations form the backbone of the new legislation, promising to deliver a modern, simplified, and more accessible legal framework.

A significant feature of the new legislation is the introduction of a mandatory seller’s disclosure, marking a welcome shift from the “buyer beware” principle traditionally prevalent in Queensland. Sellers of freehold land and strata properties are now required to provide clear and relevant details about the property to potential buyers before signing a contract. This measure is designed to promote fairness in property transactions, ensuring that buyers have access to all necessary information to make informed decisions.

Under the new regime, the repercussions for sellers who neglect to provide complete and accurate disclosures are clear: buyers may opt to terminate the contract upon uncovering material omissions or inaccuracies. This provision underscores the Act’s commitment to fairness and consumer protection.

Furthermore, the Act includes tailored provisions for auctioned properties, mandating that disclosures are made in a timely manner to prospective buyers. This is particularly important in the fast-paced environment of property auctions, where decisions are often made quickly and under pressure.

The influence and advocacy of our members have been pivotal in shaping the direction and content of the Act. The SCAQ’s submissions, which incorporated significant input from our members, were integral to the reform process. The fact that these submissions were repeatedly referenced by politicians across the political spectrum during the parliamentary debate is a powerful acknowledgment of SCAQ’s expertise and growing authority. It is also a reflection of the common-sense nature of the reforms we have advocated for.

The Property Law Act 2023 stands as a beacon of progress in property law reform. It exemplifies the benefits of collaborative review and consultation processes, and while there is still further consultation to be had on the form and implementation of the new seller disclosure regime it is anticipated to have a long-lasting positive impact on the property industry in Queensland. While the initial changes have been a step in the right direction, it’s crucial that we maintain the momentum and push for even more significant strata reform.

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