New legislation has been introduced into Queensland’s parliament overhauling property laws for the first time in almost half a century but as usual the devil is in the detail.

The Property Law Bill 2023 will replace the Property Law Act 1974, which has remained largely unchanged since its inception.

Among a raft of updates and changes, the Bill includes a new statutory disclosure scheme for selling property in the Sunshine State.

Under the new disclosure regime, it will be mandatory for a seller of freehold property under $10 million to disclose relevant information to the buyer in a single document along with any prescribed certificates, including a body corporate certificate where relevant.

The scheme does not extend to flooding information but buyers will be alerted to the need to undertake their own due diligence on flood information.

“Owning and dealing with property, establishing co-ownership arrangements, signing and enforcing lease agreements and managing mortgages are major transactions that affect Queenslanders everywhere,” Queensland attorney-general Shannon Fentiman said.

“The Queensland government is taking action to ensure our state’s property laws are modern and fit for purpose.

“The new seller disclosure scheme will simplify disclosure for freehold land sales and empower buyers to make well-informed decisions when purchasing property.”

But the move has been criticised by peak body the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, which deemed the Bill had been “prematurely introduced … while there’s still material matters to be worked through”.

“Given the significance of real estate to the Queensland economy and the housing crisis we are facing, this is simply too critical an issue to rush this process through at the last minute,” REIQ chief executive Antonia Mercorella said.

She said while the REIQ supported the introduction of a uniform statutory seller disclosure regime, it had raised a number of concerns over the proposed legislation.

▲ The raft of updates and changes to Queensland’s property laws includes a new statutory disclosure scheme for selling property in the Sunshine State.

Among those concerns was “the impractical and unnecessarily complex requirements” associated with the provision of a disclosure statement at auctions.

“The proposed requirements are unnecessarily complicated and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the principles of an auction sale,” Mercorella said.

She also noted that the planned reforms “take a regressive step” by seeking to reintroduce the requirement to provide a Community Management Statement (CMS) in connection with a sale of lots in a Community Titles Scheme.

“It is disappointing to see a proposal to reintroduce a past failed legislative measure,” Mercorella said.

She added that it was also concerning that the Bill “remained ambiguous” in relation to matters that would give rise to potential termination rights.

“Queensland has a concerning history of real estate legislation leaving too much room for interpretation,” she said.

“We are the peak body for real estate professionals in Queensland, with an unparalleled understanding of the way real estate transactions are facilitated in this state, so it’s alarming that the proposed legislation has been introduced into parliament while we are still in the process of working through key stakeholder consultation.”

Property Council Queensland deputy executive director Jess Caire said the legislative review had been 10 years in the making and was aimed at “modernising” the laws to reflect “the changing nature of the way property is transacted”.

She said the introduction of a statutory seller disclosure scheme was underpinned by “a principle of transparency and allows buyers to make informed decisions when purchasing property under $10 million”.

“It is important to note, that there are still various steps for this Bill before it becomes legislation—one of which will involve further consultation,” Caire said.

Article source: Queensland Property Investor