Horrible histories: What do agents have to reveal about the history of a Brisbane property

Whether you’re renting, buying or selling a home, real estate agents must provide relevant, pertinent and necessary information. This includes not misleading you and using fair contract terms in line with Queensland and Australian laws. So they must disclose any nasty skeletons that may be hiding in the history of a Brisbane property…

 

What sort of information must be disclosed for the history of a Brisbane property?

Legally, real estate agents are required to disclose any information considered to be a “material fact” to prospective property buyers/tenants. This responsibility also encompasses sellers/owners who must disclose this information to the agent before the property goes to market. A “material fact” may include instances that have occurred at the property such as violent crime, illegal drug activity, or even the suspected presence of ghosts.

Why must a seller/owner disclose information about the history of a Brisbane property?

Australian law is the governing force for this requirement, and there is little difference between the states. So Brisbane estate agents, and property sellers/owners, are bound by the same legislation as others around the country. Basically, if they are selling/renting they must not misrepresent facts or engage in misleading, deceptive, dishonest or unconscionable conduct.

What happens if I’ve bought or rented a property and I wasn’t told about its “horrible history”?

Buyers or tenants who have unwittingly bought or rented a property with a “horrible history” have a few options. Firstly, they can typically take their case to court to prosecute the agent and/or the seller or owner. Secondly, they can sue the seller/owner and/or the real estate agent on account of their conduct. If the buyer or tenant’s case is successful the seller/owner and/or the real estate agent may be fined, and in some cases, a court may set aside a completed contract/lease.

In certain circumstances, such as where illegal drug activity has taken place on a property, the consequences of not disclosing this information can be even more severe. This is because drug activity raises the seriousness of the issue. Illegal drug activity raises the issue from a breach of duty of reasonable disclosure to a potential for serious health risks. Obviously, for this reason any buyer and/or tenant would want to be notified of this risk before signing a contract/lease.

How did this all come about?

In 2004, an agency was prosecuted and fined for failing to disclose a “material fact” to the buyer. It turned out that a fairly recent multiple family homicide had occurred at the property…

Is there anything that agents don’t have to disclose about the history of a Brisbane property?

Yep, difficult neighbours. This is probably one of the biggest nuisances for a homeowner or tenant, but under current rules and regulations this is not something agents are required to disclose.

What if the seller or owner tries to hide the details of the history of a Brisbane property?

The current laws also become murkier when agents are at the mercy of sellers or owners who deliberately withhold facts about their property, or those who simply don’t know or aren’t aware of the property’s history.

Rule of thumb would be that if an agent, seller or owner knows about material matters from the past, these should always be disclosed. However, if in doubt, check the ACCC website below for up to date information.

In conclusion…

As a seller or owner, try to understand or be aware of the history of your property.

As a real estate agent, always disclose “material facts” to prospective buyers and tenants.

But at the end of the day, if you get a bad vibe from a property or a niggling doubt, ask the agent, do some research or walk away. Only you can decide if you’ll be happy living in a property with a “horrible history”.

 

Resources:

Australian Competitor & Consumer Commissioner’s webpage on real estate agents – information on the duty and obligatiosn real estate agents have to their clients and customers.

Our current properties for sale and for lease are available here.

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Horrible histories: What do agents have to reveal about the history of a Brisbane property