Off the plan amendments
Off the plan amendments for residential properties are being introduced by the Conveyancing Legislation (Amendment) Act 2018 and the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Amendment Regulation 2019. The bulk of the amendments will commence on 1 December 2019, however, the provisions affecting statutory cooling off commenced on 25 October 2019, introducing a transition period until 30 November 2019.
The cooling off period for off-the-plan contracts has been extended from 5 to 10 business days. The cooling off warning notice form, prescribed by Schedule 5 of the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation 2017, has also been amended to reflect this change. A contract for the sale of residential property entered into during the transitional period may include the new cooling off warning notice form or the old form in force immediately before the amendment. There is no obligation for a contract to include the new form of notice until 1 December 2019.
A summary of the amendments that will commence 1 December 2019 include:
- Increased vendor disclosure requirements including a Disclosure Statement and draft documents to be attached to the contract. Purchasers can rescind the contract within 14 days of exchange if the Disclosure Statement or relevant prescribed documents are not attached to an off-the-plan contract before it is signed. These new requirements are additional to the existing disclosure regime imposed by Part 2 of the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation 2017. There is no need to attach more than one copy of the same document to the contract and the Disclosure Statement;
- Vendors to notify changes to ‘material particulars’. Purchasers can rescind or claim compensation for some changes to material particulars. Notification of changes must be made on an approved form which will be available on the By Lawyers Sale matter plan soon;
- 10-Business-Day cooling-off period. All contracts for sale of land may use either the old form or new form of warning notice until 30 November 2019. Contracts for established properties may use the old form or new form of warning notice for 6 months after commencement. From 2 June 2020, all contracts for sale, whether for off-the-plan or established properties, will need to use the new form of cooling off warning notice;
- Purchasers to be given registered plans 21 days before settlement;
- Deposit to be held in trust. Any money paid by the purchaser by way of deposit or installment under the contract must be retained by the stakeholder in a trust or controlled money account during the contract period. This money cannot be released to the vendor before settlement. This measure will ensure deposit and instalment monies are protected in the event of the developer’s insolvency;
- Stronger sunset clause protections. The amendments extend the definition of a sunset clause to capture other events which trigger termination of the contract, like the issue of an occupation certificate. Changes also confirm that the Court can award damages if the vendor is permitted to end the contract under a sunset clause. These changes are contained in new Section 66ZS introduced by the Conveyancing Legislation (Amendment) Act 2018. New sunset clause provisions will apply to all off-the-plan contracts, irrespective of whether they were signed before or after commencement.
The By Lawyers Conveyancing (NSW) Publication will be updated accordingly. This will include new provisions in the By Lawyers Contract for the sale of land 2019, precedents and commentary.