When purchasing and considering the condition of a property, the general rule ‘Caveat Emptor’ (i.e. “let the buyer beware”) applies. Most contracts have a general term that says a purchaser, by entering into the contract, acknowledges they are buying the property as is, subject to any defects, dilapidations and infestations, existing services and connections, compliance or non-compliance with the Local Government Act 1993, and having relied on their own enquiries and investigations. In other words, “Buyer Beware”.
If a Building Certificate is not attached to the contract, there is no way of knowing from the contract whether the structures built on the land were built with or without council approval. Councils are empowered to require the rectification or demolition of improvements erected on a property without its approval or in breach of its ordinances. For example, if improvements were built without council approval, council may issue a work order requiring the demolition or rectification of the illegal works/structure. This burden will fall squarely on the shoulders of the purchaser, irrespective of who built the improvements or when those works/structures were erected.
For this reason, we recommend purchasers:
- inspect the council file to assess the compliance of existing structures; and
- obtain a Building Certificate to ensure the property either complies with local government/planning legislation or that any non-compliance need not be rectified.
Building Certificates also provide a 7-year bar on council action for any unapproved works.
If you are looking to purchase a property and want more information on Building Certificates or other recommended pre-purchase reports, contact our office today.