BY DAVID GARWOOD
What does the law say?? Each state has its own laws for almost everything – even murder! But why can’t we have uniform property laws for the whole of Australia? After all, renting and selling can’t be any different across the country? Well, they are not different, but the regulations and laws are. Great Britain has local laws, and national laws, but in Australia we have local, state and federal laws. I think we would all agree we are over-regulated for the size of our country.
Federal laws take precedence over those beneath it. Similarly, licencing is all state based. I cannot practice real estate in any other state but Queensland.
Just last week, a landlord asked me “Why can’t I charge the tenant for all of the water bill? I can for my investment property in Perth. Rental legislation is one area where there are substantial inconsistencies between states. NSW is particularly complicated as to water efficiency and time to pay, and Qld is relatively simple – we cannot charge a tenant any infrastructure charges – only water usage – if the property is WELS accredited, all water usage (but most are not), then “excess “ above an agreed daily usage.
The one area of inconsistency which really annoys me is price guides. In NSW, The Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 has a 20 page guide on the one issue – underquoting. Similarly, in Victoria there are regulations controlling the subject – well intentioned and based on past problems – who wants to try to buy an auction property where the price guide is, say, $750,000-800,000 and the opening bid is $840,000? – you have wasted time probably a building report and a finance application. The price guide must be realistic and accurate in its range.
But in Queensland, we have the absurdity where under The Property Occupations Act 2014, it is an offence to give any price guide on a property being offered for auction, punishable by a fine of up to almost $6000!! We are also supposed to put a disclaimer in our web-based ads about there being no price guide because it’s an auction. Ridiculous. I have had owners say “I don’t care what the law says, tell prospects unless they are looking over $…. They will miss out”. Most buyers expect an indication of where the value lies. At a recent meeting of the REIQ (of which I am a Fellow), I asked our CEO how these 2 conflicting concepts could both be right (they can’t) and she shrugged her shoulders. That’s just the way it is.
The sooner Australia adopts a standard property law the better.