Ever heard of the line “the burden of proof is on the accuser”? It’s a principle used in common law which states that a person who indicts another person for an alleged crime bears the responsibility of producing evidence to back their claim. The accused cannot be obliged to produce the evidence that the accuser claims to exist.
A comparable principle, known as the doctrine of caveat emptor, applies to Australian property law. Caveat emptor is a Latin term that means “let the buyer beware”, and in terms of real estate, it states that the buyer alone is responsible for investigating the land that they are purchasing and protecting themselves through contract.
Like most laws, however, this is not absolute. Lawmakers, after all, made sure to strike a balance between the interests of both the sellers and the buyers. The law helps buyers to be appropriately informed about the property they are eyeing and sellers to reduce the financial burden of extensive seller disclosure.
So what are the exemptions?
While owners of land for sale in Brisbane are still assumed to be generally protected by the doctrine of caveat emptor, there are certain pieces of information about the house or land for sale they are offering that must be disclosed. Failure to do so could result not just in lost sale, but also in a liability.
There are three places where you can find the list of information that you need to disclose if you are a seller—in the standard terms of the contract between you and the buyer, in the common law, and in certain pieces of legislation.
In a standard contract of sale, you will be required to divulge any claim on the property, order or writ affecting the property, and notice that may lead to an adjudication. Any title defects and encumbrances that won’t be removed before settlement must be revealed as well.
Keep in mind that not all of the rights of a buyer are afforded to the contract. You may think that just because the contract doesn’t mention about title defects, such as leases, easements, mortgages and statutory charges, you are no longer obliged to reveal them to the buyer. Truth is common law requires you to, which means you will be breaking the law if you fail to do so.
The buyer must also be informed about the qualities of your land that are covered by certain pieces of legislation. For instance, if your land is recorded on the Environmental Management Register or the Contaminated Land Register or if there are orders made by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in relation to trees affecting the neighbouring property, the buyer must know about it, too.
Understanding these technicalities in the land buying process can help protect your interest regardless of whether you’re the buyer or the seller. If you are not confident with your current knowledge in real estate, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from experienced realtors from Lion Land Marketing in putting up your land for sale in Brisbane. Not only are they capable of finding you the right buyer, but they can also ensure that you won’t break the law.