From 1 January 2010, anyone who sells a house, townhouse or unit
in Queensland must complete and sign a sustainability declaration
before they offer the property for sale1.
Corresponding amendments to the Property Agents and Motor Dealers
Act 2000 require real estate agents to ensure a sustainability
declaration is prepared before they market a property. The
declaration must be given to potential buyers on request, must be
displayed or given to buyers at inspections and must be referred to
in advertising (with some exceptions).
Filling out the Declaration
The sustainability declaration is a 2 page questionnaire (38
questions) which is intended to identify sustainability, access and
safety features of a property. The "Household Report
Card" requires the seller to disclose annual household
electricity costs, annual greenhouse gas emissions from the
household electricity usage and annual household water usage. The
form (with a guide to complete it) is available from the following
The declaration need only be completed to the best of the
seller's ability and knowledge. However clearly there is an
obligation to at least inspect the premises and make a reasonable
effort to complete the declaration.
Corrections and Amendments
There is an ongoing obligation to amend or replace the
sustainability declaration if the seller becomes aware that
information in it is not correct. This continues until the property
is sold or withdrawn from sale. The legislation does not provide
guidance on when a property is "sold" (ie when a contract
is signed or it settles). The Explanatory Note states somewhat
cryptically that sold "includes the contract becoming
unconditional". The likely meaning is that the obligation
continues until a contract is entered into and becomes
Advertising and inspections
A seller or agent must not publish an advertisement (excluding a
newspaper or magazine ad or a generic "for sale" sign not
prepared specifically for the property) unless it includes
information about where a person can obtain a copy of the
A copy of the declaration must accompany any advertising
material given to a potential buyer unless the recipient has
already received a copy or the recipient is present at the property
and a copy of the sustainability declaration is available
The declaration must be conspicuously displayed at any
"open house". For a private inspection, the declaration
must be either given to a potential buyer before the buyer enters
the property, conspicuously displayed or available at the property
for inspection (in the latter case the prospective buyer must be
informed that the declaration is available).
Penalties and compensation for false and misleading
Penalties for non-compliance with the new provisions are
generally up to $2000 for sellers and up to $10,000 for real estate
Where a declaration contains material errors or is otherwise
prepared without exercise of reasonable skill and care, the seller
is liable to compensate the buyer for any loss or expense the buyer
The seller will be liable for a material inaccuracy even where
(as may well happen in practice) the seller's real estate agent
completes the form.
Importantly, a buyer cannot terminate a contract merely
because a declaration is incomplete or contains information that is
false or misleading. The legislation does not state what
the consequences are if a seller fails to supply a sustainability
declaration. However the intention seems to be it will have no
effect on enforceability of the contract.
The stated intent of the declaration is to promote greater
awareness of sustainability features and potential cost savings.
Whilst the intention is commendable, whether prospective purchasers
will notice the sustainability declarations amongst the myriad of
warnings and disclosure statements now required to be given to
buyers is questionable. There is no doubt that this adds another
layer to the existing complexity of buying or selling a home in
1. Building and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2009 ,
This publication is provided to clients and
correspondents for their information on a complimentary basis. It
represents a brief summary of the law applicable as at the date of
publication and should not be relied on as a definitive or complete
statement of the relevant laws.
The Council announced planning policies to encourage more inner suburban retirement village and aged care development.
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