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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Better Protection for Off-the-plan Purchases

The Queensland Government has begun work on amendments to land sales legislation to strengthen consumer protections for ‘off the plan’ residential property contracts for the sale of land.

Since the pandemic, Queensland’s building industry has faced difficulties with supply chain issues, labour shortages and increased costs for building supplies. This is combined with rising interest rates and soaring property prices. Following these challenging market conditions, there have been several reports of developers invoking a sunset clause to terminate an ‘off the plan’ contract, allegedly to re-list and sell the proposed lot for a much higher price. 

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said property law is a complex and technical area that differs between states and territories. 

“While property development is a vital part of the Queensland economy – we also need to make sure Queensland buyers are protected when they purchase land off-the-plan.

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions and investments a Queenslander will make in their lifetime, and we want to ensure they are protected and the process is fair

That’s why changes will be made to legislation to ensure property developers can only invoke a ‘sunset clause’ to terminate ‘off the plan’ contracts for land in specific situations.

This includes:

  • With the written consent of the buyer; or
  • Under an order of the Supreme Court; or
  • In another situation prescribed by regulation

Last year, consumers and property developers were invited to complete an online survey on the issue, and peak bodies were also invited to provide written submissions.

If any buyers are concerned their ‘off the plan’ residential property contract may be terminated in the future, they are strongly encouraged to seek independent legal advice about the particular terms of the agreement and any legal remedies that may be available to them in the event of termination of the contract.

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