Unapproved structures: Your rights when buying

Unapproved structures: Your rights when buying

Buying a property is an exciting time for most home buyers. One sure way to ruin that excitement is to find out that your new home has unapproved structures that need to be removed. Can you imagine having to remove that carport of granny flat out the back after settlement?

What approvals are required

Many people mistakenly believe a building approval is all that is required to ensure that your new home has all of the required approvals. The building approval is merely the first step in the process.

There are various approvals that are required for properties to be lawfully occupied in Queensland. The final approval a property receives is generally a Form 21 Final Inspection Certificate or a Certificate of Classification. Without this final certificate, generally a property cannot be lawfully occupied.

What to look out for

While we recommend a building approval search is carried out for all purchases (other than vacant land), here are a few things to look out for that should be a red flag to ask further questions:

  • a newly completed property
  • a house with extensions or additions (including carports and decks)
  • a renovated house
  • a house that has been raised

What happens if there are unapproved works?

Clause 7.6(1) of the standard REIQ contract provides that the Seller must comply with any property notices issued before the contract date and the Buyer must comply with any property notices issued after the contract date. This means that the Buyer will be responsible for any unapproved structures, unless the local council has issued an enforcement notice before the contract date.

Can I terminate the contract due to unapproved structure?

Unfortunately, the answer is generally no. If you are using the standard REIQ contract, then the Buyer will be responsible for complying with any notices that are issues in respect of the unapproved structures.

Will this be raised in my building and pest inspection?

The answer is generally no. While a prudent building inspector may recommend you carry out further enquiries with the local council, the purpose of a building inspection is to ensure the property is structurally sound. A building inspector cannot confirm whether a property has all of the required approvals without carrying out the appropriate searches with the local council.

How do I protect myself?

If you suspect the property you’re buying may not have the required approvals, then we recommend a special condition is inserted into the contract to allow you to carry out the relevant searches and to terminate the contract if there are any unapproved structures. We would be happy to provide you with a special condition that can be used for this.

Want to know more?

If you think all Brisbane conveyancing lawyers are the same, then think again. Going the extra mile to ensure your new home has the relevant approvals for all improvements is part of the McAndrew Law conveyancing service.

Please don’t hesitate to call us on 07 3266 8555 or submit a query below if you have any questions and we would be happy to assist.

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