23 Mar 2018

3 Weird Property Rules You Probably Didn't Know About

Let’s be honest. Property legislation isn’t exactly the most exciting topic in real estate, but it is, however, essential. Legal disputes over property can be some of the messiest, so it’s important that any property for sale covers all bases in the contract, and that homeowners adhere to the rules governing their ownership. Interestingly, some of these are rules are… a little odd. Here are three of the more unusual or uncommon property rules that you probably didn't know about.

 

Anzac Day is off limits

That’s right. In Queensland, it’s illegal to conduct real estate transactions on Anzac Day. So forget about open homes, rental viewings, inspections or contracts – the law states that this is one public holiday that’s off limits. Although no real estate transactions are allowed, an office may still remain open to collect rent; however, most don’t bother as the majority of rent is now paid by direct transfer due to offices with large cash amounts becoming soft targets for robberies. And considering real estate agents generally work six days a week, most agents are appreciative of a day off (unless they’re up early to attend the dawn service), but who could blame them, really? I don’t think any of us would complain about a mandatory day off once a year.

 

Property is deemed buyer’s risk 

Also an oddity in Queensland, a property for sale is deemed to be at the buyer’s risk from 5pm on the first business day after they sign a contract to purchase the property, not when the contract settles. Despite this provision allocating risk from the seller to the buyer, the best practice is for both parties to have the property insured between the contract date and the settlement date. Most buyers opt for a cover note to protect the property during that period, so if something untoward like a storm or fire were to occur, it is likely the two insurers would fight it out to apportion risk and cover.

 

There’s no sitting on the fence in regard to retaining walls

Dividing fences are always a hot topic and a potential cause for neighbourhood disputes, but retaining walls aren’t governed by the same legislation. In principle, the person who benefits from the retaining wall, or the one who altered the natural lie or fall of the land, is responsible for building, maintaining and paying for a retaining wall. This means that if you build up your block just on one side (which is called a cut and fill), you still need to retain the soil on the other side. If you leave one side au naturel and only build up the other, you will need to retain that side. However, if your neighbour cuts or fills the land, it’s their responsibility to retain it. Also, any retaining wall in excess of one metre in height must have an engineer’s report to approve the works.

 

Whether you have a property for sale, are in the market to buy, or are already a homeowner, it’s probably a good idea to check out exactly what your obligations are from a legal standpoint in order to avoid a potentially messy (and costly) situation.


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