By David Garwood
I had some nice comments about the previous article on “What does the law say?” This has prompted me to write this week about some of the stupid legislation that gets passed in Queensland. Usually well meaning, but nevertheless ineffective, unnecessary or both! Usually the bright idea of some ill-informed public servant or MP who wants to see their name in lights. One of the REIQ’s criticisms of legislation affecting our industry is the lack of consultation with working professionals.
My favourite is the Sustainability Declaration. New legislation introduced in Queensland on January 1 2010 required, by law, by amending the Building Act 1975 (Qld) and the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 (Qld), all residential dwellings to have a sustainability declaration before they can be marketed, at risk of a fine of $4000. This statutory document had to be completed by the seller, or the seller could appoint a third party to complete the form (but not their agent). The checklist identified the property’s environmental and social sustainability features in the four areas of energy, water, safety, and access. It was immediately reviled by sellers and the form went through 3 versions within 9 months responding to the criticism from the property industry and owners. The first version put huge requirements on the seller to find obscure information – the requirements were scaled back over time, but the most stupid part was the requirement for access to the disclosure to be made up front – before a prospective purchaser could even inspect a property they had to be given a copy of the completed statement – I would stand at the door of open house and thrust a copy towards visitors – “I don’t want a copy of that“ was a common call. And as for sellers – as long as they signed it and even left it blank it was legal. I had several sellers who did that, or left blank the difficult bits.
The legislation died a quiet death by the introduction of the bizarrely named Treasury (Cost of Living) and other Legislation Amendment Act 2012 (Qld) in May 2012, heralded by the legal profession as reducing the red tape for property sellers.
Another one I love to hate is the Electronic Transactions QLD (2001) Act enacted in June 2001. A lot of you out there might not know this, but you are required to consent explicitly to receiving any legal documents by email or fax. So if you receive even a draft contract by email from an agent, he or she should have invited you to complete a consent form. To me, if you accept something which is sent to you electronically, that is implied or deemed consent.
Ah well, back to the legal drawing board..