Water authorities (like all other vendors) are bound by section 32 of the Sale of Land Act 1962 (Act) to disclose certain information to prospective purchasers when selling land in Victoria.

On 1 October 2014, important changes to s 32 of the Act came into effect which impacts the way in which vendor’s statements are used and prepared throughout Victoria.  The changes seek to strike a better balance between protecting the consumer and reducing the red tape and cost to vendors when selling land.

Key changes to the Act

The key changes are summarised as follows:

  • Content: all vendor’s statements must be in the format and contain the information required under the amendeds 32 of the Act from 1 October 2014.
  • Separate document: the vendor’s statement no longer needs to be attached to each copy of the contract of sale.
  • Essential services: only those services that are not connected must be disclosed in the vendor’s statement.
  • Planning: planning overlays affecting the land being sold must now be disclosed.
  • Owner’s Corporation: an owner’s corporation certificate no longer needs to be provided for an ‘inactive’ owner’s corporation.
  • Due diligence checklist: a vendor selling residential land (or vacant residential land) must provide a new due diligence checklist to prospective purchasers in the form prescribed by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Non-Compliance

The implications for failing to comply with s 32 of the Act have also changed under the amended Act.

Previously, a purchaser was entitled to rescind a contract of sale if the vendor either supplied false information or failed to supply all the information required by s 32 of the Act.

Under the amended Act, a purchaser now has an additional right to rescind a contract of sale if the vendor fails to give a purchaser a vendor’s statement signed by the vendor before the purchaser signs the contract of sale.

The penalty for supplying false information, failing to supply all the information by the Act or failing to give a purchaser a vendor’s statement under s 32 of the Act has been increased from 50 penalty units to 300 penalty units for a body corporate and 60 penalty units for an individual.

When selling land, water authorities should ensure that vendor’s statements are carefully prepared having regard to the new requirements of the Act to avoid incurring penalties and, perhaps more importantly, inadvertently giving purchasers an avenue to rescind the contract of sale prior to settlement.