Wednesday, 20th August 2014
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Real Estate

On this page

Buying a Property

Buying or selling a home is an important event. You are entering into a significant contract. The contract and documentation you are asked to sign may seem simple, but beware. Before signing the contract, make sure you understand what you are signing.

See a lawyer for advice if you have any concerns or if the contract involves any special provisions.

If your are buying the property for business or as an investment then you should speak to your accountant at an early stage. There are many factors to be weighed up in deciding which name or entity (such as a company or trust) to buy a property in and whether something like a Trust may be more suitable.

Conveyancing

Conveyancers are people who facilitate the transfer of real property from one person to the other. 'Real property' refers to house and/or land. 

Some lawyers conduct conveyances. Or, a conveyancing firm may perform the conveyance.

When real property is transferred it needs to be in writing and registered at the Land Titles Office.

Buying or selling a home is an important event. You are entering into a significant contract. The contract and documentation you are asked to sign may seem simple, but beware. Before signing the contract, make sure you understand what you are signing.

See a lawyer for advice if you have any concerns.

Lawyers and Property Issues

If you are unsure, a lawyer can advise you on your rights and obligations under a Contract. Sometimes important conditions are easy to miss if you do not have a trained eye.

The vendor's statement will contain information you, as a purchaser will seek to rely on. A lawyer can check this information for you and advise you of your rights if the information provided by the vendor is untrue or if the vendor has failed to disclose any information that it is compelled to disclose.

A lawyer can take your directions about what you want to happen under the contract and can negotiate contractual terms favourable to you.

A lawyer can make sure that legislation has been complied with and conduct relevant searches.

Taking a proactive approach and getting legal advice before signing a contract is always the safest and most sensible way to go.

Victoria 1 buying a house selling a house land rent lease landlord tenant land agent real estate neighbours retirement village

Acts, Regulations, Rules & Forms

Are you looking for detailed information like this, or contact details for any of the bodies mentioned on this page. If so, then start on our Property Law for Lawyers page.

If it isn't there, then start on our Finding Detailed Legal Information page.

Please read our warning on that page "Be careful using these resources".

The Law is not always as straightforward as it appears. We have not included any information about when and how to use that information or any traps. We assume that the Lawyers will know this.

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Leasing Disputes

On occasion, a dispute may arise between a tenant and their landlord. Lawyers help people with these kinds of disputes on a regular basis. If you find yourself involved in a dispute, you may need some legal advice. Take along a copy of the lease in question to the meeting with your lawyer. He or she can then read through the lease and advise you. If necessary, your lawyer can write to the tenant or landlord, or arrange a meeting to try and find a resolution.

Often disputes arise when tenants and landlords don't have an understanding about their rights and obligations under the lease in the first place. Some tricky areas tend to be:

  • Termination of the lease
  • Obligations of the parties on termination
  • Rights of Renewal

Particularly if your lease is coming up for renewal, and there are some problems to iron out, it might be a good time to see a lawyer to discuss the next step, and see if you can negotiate a better arrangement.

Victoria 2 buying a house selling a house land rent lease landlord tenant land agent real estate neighbours retirement village

Retirement Villages

Consumer Affairs Victoria has general information for the public. See Consumer Affairs Victoria - Retirement Villages pages and also Types of retirement village contracts.

See also Law Handbook (Vic) - Retirement Villages

Each Retirement Village is required to have a dispute resolution process. If you are are unable to reach agreement you should next contact Consumer Affairs Victoria for advice. They will attempt to resolve the dispute by conciliation. (For information on this and other people who may help, see their page on Resolving retirement village disputes). If that doesn't work, then you can apply to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal using their Small Claims procedures. For more information about the CTTT see our information about lease disputes.

Some early termination fees for loans made to enter a Retirement Village may no longer be enforceable. Seek legal advice.

See Foolkit's Eldercare page for more information about the services for Seniors including advice regarding Retirement Village issues.

Protecting the Environment

From 1 November 2010 most sellers or lessors of office space of 2,000 square metres or more will be required to obtain and disclose an up-to-date energy efficiency rating. Certain exceptions and exemptions apply.

See Commercial Building Disclosure for more information.


Engaging a Real Estate Agent

Most people choose to have a real estate agent to sell their land. Some concerns to keep in mind on this subject:

  • Make sure you completely understand the basis on which the agent is to be retained and the terms of the agency agreement.
  • Do the terms of the agency create a sole agency, auction or general authority to sell?
  • How is the agent's commission going to be calculated? Don't be afraid to try to negotiate terms to suit your requirements.
  • Check out whether you are responsible for additional expenses like advertising and if there is a fixed amount or limit on the amount you need to pay.

Vendor's Statement

If you are selling a property, you must disclose information about the property in a vendor's statement. Withholding information can have disastrous consequences.
Make sure that sufficient information is included about the following:

  • Any restrictions (such as encumbrances) on title
  • Services connected to the property
  • Rates
  • Zoning
  • Notices
  • Orders
  • Building approvals

It is standard practice to have your conveyance or lawyer prepare the vendor's statement. Make sure you provide them with the information they require.

Caveats

A caveat is a formal notice to the registered proprietor of land (i.e. the owner) that the person registering the caveat (the caveator) claims a legal or beneficial interest in the land. The caveat is registered on the Certificate of Title at the Land Titles Office.

The caveat prevents the owner of the land from selling the land until the caveator's interest has been determined by the parties involved, or by the Court.

Victoria 3 buying a house selling a house land rent lease landlord tenant land agent real estate neighbours retirement village

Contrary to popular belief, for a caveat to be registered on someone's property, the caveator must have a direct interest in the land. For instance, you cannot try and recover a general debt by registering a caveat on the debtor's land, unless the debtor has given you the right to do so. However, if you have contributed to the purchase of land, or have improved the land physically somehow, you may have a caveatable interest in the land.

See your lawyer if you need advice in this area.

Objecting to Council Rates

If you believe the valuation of your property is incorrect in comparison to sales of similar properties in your area then you have the right to object to object.

The procedure, forms and time limits are here.

Neighbours

For issues concerning pets, fences, noise, trees and trespass see The Law Handbook (Vic) - Neighbours and Noise and Legal Aid's Fact Sheets on Housing and Tenancy.