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Trends and prospects
What are the current trends in and future prospects for the real estate market (both commercial and residential) in your jurisdiction?
The Australian real estate market should be seen as a number of different markets based on product (residential, commercial, industrial and retail) and location (Sydney and Melbourne, versus other capital cities, versus regions). The performance and likely future prospects of each vary greatly.
In relation to commercial real estate, the office markets of Sydney and Melbourne in particular experienced strong price growth in 2016, whereas other markets struggled, with Perth and Brisbane in particular facing high vacancy rates and decreasing rent. This reflects the overall two-speed economy in Australia, with higher growth in New South Wales and Victoria compared with states which are more reliant on mining and associated industries (ie, Western Australia and Queensland). Modest price growth is expected to continue into 2017 in Sydney and Melbourne.
The residential property market is subject to constant media and social speculation, with housing affordability a key political issue. In the last year house values have increased 19% in Sydney and 16% in Melbourne, despite record increases since 2012 and with many having predicted a slowdown in 2016.
With residential real estate so highly valued and little sign of demand slowing, there is pressure on banks to tighten lending to investors, and on the state and federal governments to pursue action to put downward pressure on prices. One of the upshots of this is that it increases taxes on foreign purchasers.
Rights and registration
What types of holding right over real estate are acknowledged by law in your jurisdiction?
Real estate in Australia is generally either:
- owned outright (freehold) – this is the most common form of ownership; or
- leased under a long-term lease from the government – this is less common and generally found in specific jurisdictions (eg, the Australian Capital Territory) or various areas (eg, Sydney Harbour foreshore).
Many other interests in land can also be granted, including native title rights, crown leases and mining leases. Real estate can be subject to short-term leases and licences to occupy. Freehold and leasehold owners can mortgage their interest and grant other rights, such as access rights.
Are rights to land and buildings on the land legally separable?
This is not common. Ownership of land is accompanied by ownership of all structures and fixtures erected on the land. However, it is possible for a land owner to grant a long-term lease of a building to a third party, which is a way of effectively separating ownership of the land and building.
Which parties may hold and exercise rights over real estate? Are there restrictions on foreign ownership of property?
Any legal entity (ie, an individual over the age of 18, a company or a trustee) may own real estate. There are restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate, but these are limited to a requirement that foreign parties obtain prior government approval. Generally, where there is an economic benefit to Australia, such applications will be approved; the exception is second hand (ie, not newly developed) residential real estate, where foreign buyers can buy only in limited circumstances.
How are rights, encumbrances and other interests over real estate prioritised?
Real estate law across most jurisdictions in Australia operates on a system of registration, where a party has priority based on the order of registration, with exceptions only for fraud and other limited circumstances. Given that the title register is publicly searchable for ownership and other interests in real estate, and there being a general understanding of the importance of registering dealings such as leases, priority disputes are relatively rare.
Must real estate rights, interests and transactions be registered in your jurisdiction? What are the legal effects of registration?
Generally yes, but there are exceptions for some short-term leases. The legal effect of registration is the indefeasibility of title and priority over any later dealing. For example, the interest of a tenant who has registered the lease would be protected against action from any incoming mortgagee under a later mortgage.
What are the procedural and documentary requirements for entry into the national real estate register(s)? Can registration be completed electronically?
Registration is available to any member of the public through land title registries in each jurisdiction. There is a move towards all conveyancing being done electronically by 2019 and for paper certificates of title to be phased out ‒ although currently most registration is not done electronically.
What information is recorded in the national real estate register(s) and to what extent is such information publicly available?
The title to each property records the owner (name of the individual and company only) and full copies of any registered mortgage, lease, easement or other dealing. The purchase price for the property is generally known and discoverable, as it is included on transfers of property which can be publicly searched. There is generally a high degree of transparency as to who owns the property and the price paid.
Is there a state guarantee of title?
Each jurisdiction operates with different legislation. In New South Wales, for example, the Torrens Assurance Fund allows those deprived of property interests through fraud to make a claim.
Sale and purchase
How are real estate brokers regulated in your jurisdiction (eg, through caps on commission or disclosure obligations)?
Real estate selling agents are subject to stringent legislation in each jurisdiction. The legislation provides that there is no entitlement for a selling agent to be paid a commission or reimbursement of any expenses unless it has complied with the legislation and a formal agency agreement has been entered into which conforms with the requirements of the legislation. There are significant disclosure obligations and restrictions on what an agent can do when handling deposit and other trust money. There is generally no cap on what an agent can charge – commissions range from 1.5% to 4%, depending on the nature and location of the property.
What due diligence should be conducted before conclusion of a real estate sale contract?
Real estate is almost always transacted on an ‘as is, where is’ basis, where the level of disclosure required by the vendor is minimal and the purchaser buys at its own risk. A diligent purchaser should:
- order all searches of statutory authorities to verify that no authority has an interest in the property;
- ask the local council to ensure that there is no adverse development that will occur on any adjoining property;
- review the planning certificate for the property from the local council and consider the potential impact of the zoning of the property and other planning requirements that apply to the property on the purchaser’s proposed use of the property;
- obtain a thorough building, pest and environmental report; and
- review the title for the property and consider the impact of any registered dealings on the property, such as easements, restrictions on use, positive covenants and any other rights affecting the property that have been granted to third parties.
If the property is a commercial asset with tenancies, the terms of those tenancies should be carefully reviewed.
Are any preliminary agreements typically entered into before conclusion of a sale contract?
No – the contract for sale usually governs the whole transaction.
Must sale contracts be concluded in writing? If so, must they be notarised?
Yes ‒ a contract for sale must be in writing to be effected. Contracts are generally exchanged in counterpart, with each party retaining a copy signed by the other. They need not be notarised.
Can sale contracts be concluded electronically?
What provisions are usually included in a sale contract?
Each jurisdiction (ie, each state) has a standard form contract. In New South Wales (NSW), this is prepared and updated by the Law Society of NSW and the Real Estate Institute of NSW. It is not compulsory to use the standard form; however, it is exceedingly rare for any practitioner to conduct a transaction using a private precedent. There is an obvious benefit in starting with a base document where the clauses are known and understood by solicitors and conveyancers. The standard terms are understandably designed to provide even-handed protection for vendors and purchasers. It is accordingly common for practitioners acting for vendors to vary the standard terms and include special conditions to further limit the liability of the vendor. This includes inserting provisions where the purchaser acknowledges that it has carried out its own due diligence and that it cannot make any claim against the vendor due to any defect in the property (other than any rights under legislation which cannot be contractually excluded by the parties).
Obligations and liabilities
What are the seller’s disclosure obligations and other liabilities, and what are the consequences of breach?
The seller’s disclosure obligations are those set out in legislation ‒ for example the Conveyancing Act in NSW. This extends to annexing certain documents to the contract (including a copy of a search of the title, the plan showing the boundaries of the property and a certificate from the council with information as to the zoning of the property). The vendor must also disclose certain matters, such as whether the property is subject to an adverse affectation ‒ for example, a proposal by a transport authority to widen a road which would affect the property. Failure to attach a prescribed document to the contract or to make a required disclosure generally entitles the purchaser to rescind the contract (some time limits and exceptions apply). Beyond what is set out in legislation, there is generally no duty for a seller to disclose any defects in the property. However, it is common and recommended practice for parties to make disclosure regardless, as failure to do so can be actionable under the common law and trade practices legislation (eg, misrepresentation or misleading and deceptive conduct).
What contractual warranties are usually given by the seller?
It is common for a seller to give no warranties. In commercial transactions which are heavily negotiated, the seller will normally give warranties where the purchaser could not reasonably discover the issue through due diligence ‒ for example, a seller warranting that it has not entered into any oral or side deals varying the terms of a lease.
Are there any other obligations on the buyer, aside from paying the purchase price?
Contractual obligations will vary between transactions; however, most conveyances do not proceed with obligations on the purchaser other than paying the price and complying with all rights and obligations affecting the property.
What taxes are payable on the sale and purchase of real estate? Are any exemptions available?
Real estate is heavily taxed at all stages and is affected by federal and state taxes. At state level, acquisitions of real estate incur stamp duty (being a variable rate based on the value of the transaction; the maximum rate in NSW, for example, is 7% for Australian purchasers and 11% for non-Australian purchasers). Owners of real estate are further required to pay an annual land tax. In NSW, this is 1.6% of the unimproved land value of all land owned by the particular taxpayer (a surcharge of 0.75% has recently been introduced for non-Australian land owners). On sale, the seller is liable to pay capital gains tax on any gain and some sellers – developers or entities carrying on a business – are required to remit 10% of the purchase price, being the applicable goods and services tax). The major exemption is for owners of residential property where the residence is their home (principal place of residence). On such properties, the owner is required to pay stamp duty, but is not subject to land tax, capital gains tax or goods and services tax.
Transfer of title
When does title in the property transfer?
Title transfers upon registration of the transfer (a document handed over on settlement which is signed by each party). There is usually a time delay between settlement and payment for the property and registration of the transfer. An important part of property settlements is the review of the transfer to ensure that it is correctly signed and in registrable form. Purchasers can protect themselves during this period by registering a caveat on the title to the property which will prevent any dealings with the property without the purchaser’s consent.
What is the typical duration of a sale transaction?
Residential sales operate with a standard settlement period of 42 days. Commercial transactions generally have longer settlement periods, although there is no prescribed minimum or maximum.
Must a lease agreement be concluded in writing?
Yes. The only exception is that retail shop leases can be created orally through the operation of specific legislation protecting retail tenants.
Are there any regulations setting out mandatory or prohibited provisions in lease agreements?
There is national consumer protection legislation which voids unfair provisions in leases for small tenancies. Retail and residential leases are governed by legislation in each jurisdiction which provides mandatory terms that the parties cannot contract out of. Otherwise leases, such as commercial leases, can generally be negotiated on any basis without restriction.
What provisions are typically included in lease agreements?
Leases should define the premises in a precise way (by reference to either a plan or a defined structure, such as “Warehouse 1”), and specify a fixed term. Beyond this, the majority of leases deal with:
- the rent and other payments to be paid by the tenant;
- the obligation of the tenant to maintain and repair the property;
- restrictions on the tenant assigning or sub-leasing; and
- the obligation on the landlord not to interfere with the tenant’s peaceful occupation of the premises.
What are the standard forms of lease agreement used in your jurisdiction?
Unlike conveyancing, most leases (outside of residential leases) do not use a standard form.
Length of term
Are there any regulations on minimum and maximum terms of leases?
Retail shop lease legislation in some states provide for a minimum term; however, this can be contracted out of. There are generally no minimum or maximum term limits, although there are exceptions – for example, a prohibition against to lease part of the land for a term longer than 25 years (this is seen as a way of avoiding the expense of obtaining council approval to the subdivision of land). However, buildings (not being part of land) or entire lots can be leased for long terms, and on some developments 99-year leases are commonly granted instead of freehold title to land being transferred.
Are long-term tenants accorded any special rights as to extension or renewal of leases?
No. Any such rights are subject to the terms of the lease and the arrangement negotiated.
What regulations (if any) govern rent increases?
Residential and retail leases are subject to numerous restrictions set out in legislation. These include a prohibition on rent increasing more than once in any 12-month period. In any fixed-term lease, the rent can increase only as stated – the landlord cannot arbitrarily increase the rent during the agreed term.
What regulations (if any) govern rent security deposits?
Again, only residential and retail leases are subject to legislation which governs the collection and application of security deposits. Cash security deposits must be invested with a government agency. Commercial leases, on the other hand, are not subject to restrictions.
Can the tenant withhold rent payments on any legal grounds?
Generally, no. Commercial leases invariably prohibit the tenant from doing this. With respect to retail and residential leases, tenants can seek redress through tribunals. Tenants need not be legally represented to make claims at these tribunals.
Under what circumstances is sub-letting typically allowed?
Sub-letting is typically allowed with the consent of the landlord, subject to the sub-tenant entering into a tripartite deed of consent with the landlord and the tenant under which the sub-tenant indemnifies the landlord and the tenant acknowledges liability for any acts of the subtenant.
Obligations and liabilities
What are the general obligations and liabilities of the landlord in respect of the property and what are the consequences of breach?
In commercial leases, landlords are generally obliged to maintain the structure of the property, ensure operation of essential services (eg, lifts and air conditioning) and ensure that the tenant has quiet enjoyment (ie, uninterrupted use of the premises). In residential leases, the landlord’s obligations to maintain the property are more extensive. The consequences of breach are generally a right for the tenant to claim damages and, in some cases, to terminate the lease.
What are the general obligations and liabilities of the tenant in respect of the property and what are the consequences of breach?
In commercial leases, the tenant’s obligations extend to paying rent, outgoings (costs incurred by the landlord in owning and managing the property), utilities consumed by the tenant in the premises (eg, water and electricity), maintaining the property and maintaining insurance to protect the landlord from any claims made by any party injured on the property. The landlord can claim damages and terminate the lease for breach by the tenant.
In residential leases, tenants obligations are less (eg, the tenant does not have to pay outgoings or insure the property, and has less responsibility for maintaining the premises). There are statutory provisions which make termination of the lease for breach by the tenant more difficult than for commercial leases.
Are any taxes payable on rental income? If so, are any exemptions available?
Rental income is assessed the same as any other income of the taxpayer – no special tax applies. Rental income losses can be offset against other taxable income to reduce an investor’s total tax liability.
Are the landlord and tenant bound by any insurance requirements?
In most commercial and retail leases the landlord is responsible for insuring the building and the tenant is responsible for public risk insurance, for insuring its property and for any workers’ compensation insurance required by law.
Termination and eviction
What rules and procedures govern termination of the lease by the landlord and the tenant’s eviction from the property?
Each jurisdiction in Australia has specific legislation applying to lease termination. In New South Wales, for example, the Conveyancing Act has rules relating to the termination of commercial leases, the Retail Leases Act applies to retail leases and the Residential Tenancies Act applies to residential leases. Generally, the landlord must give the tenant notice of breach and time to remedy the breach before it can terminate the lease. The exception is non-payment of rent under commercial leases (which in most jurisdictions entitles the landlord to terminate without giving notice and time to remedy).
What are the typical providers of real estate financing in your jurisdiction? Are there any restrictions on who may provide financing?
Lending, particularly consumer lending, is heavily regulated in Australia. The financing of real estate purchases is heavily dominated by the big four banks (Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank) which, combined, control nearly 85% of the home loan market. Non-bank, overseas and mezzanine lenders are common in the commercial and development spheres.
What are the most common structures used to secure real estate financing and how are these security interests perfected?
Most residential loans are secured by a loan agreement and a real property mortgage which is registered on the title to the property. Commercial loans often involve a shareholder guarantee and indemnity and a security agreement granting a security interest over the borrower company, as well as the real property mortgage. Registration is required to perfect these interests (the mortgage on title and the security interest on the security register).
What covenants are typically made in financing agreements?
Covenants are extensive and encompass the obligation to repay the loan, the provision of default interest and the rights of the lender on default, as well as general obligations to maintain and insure the property and to notify the lender of any material matters.
Enforcement of security
How are security interests enforced in the event of default?
Legislation differs in each jurisdiction, but generally a default is enforced through the issue of a notice in the form required by legislation, following which the lender takes possession of the property and sells as mortgagee in possession. Where a company owns the property, a secured creditor may appoint a receiver over the company in order to facilitate a sale.
What is the typical timeframe for the enforcement of security?
Timeframes can vary depending on the terms of the mortgage and the event of default relied upon. In most states, for a mortgagee to exercise a power of sale, a notice must be issued which allows at least one month for the borrower to remedy the default.
What is the general climate of real estate investment in your jurisdiction?
Investment is hot in New South Wales and Victoria, but much cooler in other jurisdictions.
Who are the most common investors in real estate?
Investors come in many classes. In relation to residential real estate, the investment market is dominated by older individuals, professionals, overseas buyers and in particular those operating self-managed super funds. In commercial real estate investors are predominantly institutional-grade organisations such as real estate investment trusts, superannuation funds, hedge funds and the government. Foreign investment in commercial real estate is also strong, particularly from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and large international property management companies, with increasing investment from elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, especially China.
Are there any restrictions on foreign investment in real estate?
Yes – there are restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate, but these are limited to the requirement that foreign parties obtain prior government approval. Approval to purchase existing residential dwellings is not generally granted and foreign purchases are restricted to newly constructed buildings.
What structures are typically used to invest in real estate and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each (including tax implications)?
Individuals tend to invest in residential real estate in their personal capacity, as this allows rental losses to be offset against their personal income and they are entitled to land tax and capital gains tax exemptions for periods where they may use the property as their principal place of residence. Commercial real estate and property development is often carried out using a unit trust structure, as this allows income to be distributed to unit holders with tax paid at the unit holder level, and not by the trust itself.
Planning and environmental issues
Which government authorities regulate planning and zoning for real estate development and use in your jurisdiction and what is the extent of their powers?
The vast majority of planning and zoning law occurs at the local council level, with state laws governing the processes and requiring final state approval of locally developed controls. The state governments intervene in matters of state significance – for example, state-based zoning controls may apply to specific types of land use, either to encourage and facilitate such use (eg, affordable rental housing or housing for seniors) or to provide uniform controls for high-impact land uses (eg, mining, or offensive or hazardous industry). Even where state-mandated controls apply, the consent authority for development is usually still the local council or regional body (depending upon the cost of the development).
Although this varies somewhat between jurisdictions and it is difficult to generalise, the states tend to limit their involvement to a strategic level in land use planning and rarely act as an approval body for private development. Some exceptions apply – for example, state-significant sites in New South Wales and subdivisions in Western Australia.
What are the eligibility, procedural and documentary requirements to obtain planning permission?
Different procedural and documentary requirements apply in each jurisdiction. A landowner, or any person with consent from the landowner, is eligible to seek planning permission from a consent authority.
A risk-based approach applies: developments of greater environmental impact are subjected to more rigorous assessment and notification requirements, and require more onerous environmental justification and documentation.
Applicants typically provide:
- a completed application form;
- building and site plans;
- the owner’s consent;
- a report setting out a general overview of the development and an assessment of its compliance with the relevant zoning and development controls;
- a cost of works estimate;
- any other expert reports relevant to the development (eg, heritage impact, acoustic, waste management and traffic); and
- payment of fees.
Upon receipt of an application, the consent authority will assess it against applicable local, state or federal planning controls, notify the development for public comment, request further information if necessary and then approve or refuse the application.
Can planning decisions be appealed? If so, what is the appeal procedure?
Yes ‒ decisions in relation to developments can be appealed. Different procedures apply in each state and territory: some have a specialist court that deals with development matters and others have tribunals. An appeal can also be commenced in relation to a ‘deemed refusal’ if the relevant authority has not determined the application within the time specified in the relevant legislation. Relatively short deadlines are provided for the commencement of an appeal – as short as 20 business days in Queensland and a more generous six months in New South Wales. Only very limited rights of objector appeal exist. Decisions in relation to zoning matters cannot be appealed in most Australian jurisdictions.
What are the consequences of failure to comply with planning decisions or regulations?
Failure to comply with planning decisions and regulations can result in a range of different sanctions, including:
- a monetary fine issued by the local council or police;
- an order to compel certain action;
- a claim for injunctive relief;
- civil enforcement proceedings; or
- criminal prosecution in a court, tribunal or competent jurisdiction.
What regime governs the protection and development of historic and cultural buildings?
There are four levels of historic buildings and places: world, national, state and local. In general, the redevelopment opportunities for such sites are limited, and increasingly so the higher the level of the site. Exempt and complying development generally cannot be carried out on a heritage item or within its curtilage and any work will require approval, which must consider the impact of the work on the heritage significance of the building. All heritage sites have their own statement of significance, and the development of a detailed formal conservation management plan is encouraged and generally required as part of any development proposal. A conservation management plan will comprehensively assess and grade the relative significance of various parts of the building fabric and contain statements about appropriate future uses and potential alterations or extensions to the site.
World and national heritage sites are regulated at federal level. Any action that may affect their significance must be referred to the federal environment minister, who will determine what further assessment and approvals are required.
Works to state heritage sites require referral to, and potential approval of, the state heritage office, and local sites are regulated by local planning laws administered by local councils and regional consent authorities.
Places of natural and indigenous heritage value are also protected under heritage laws.
What regime applies to government expropriation of real estate?
The Commonwealth of Australia and each state and territory have their own discrete laws in relation to the expropriation of real estate. The federal and state legislation differs in detail and often in principle. Certain government agencies (acquiring authorities) are empowered to acquire land for a public purpose in accordance with the relevant compulsory acquisition legislation. There is always a right of appeal against the amount of compensation offered and, in some states, there is also a right of objection to the acquisition itself.
What is the required notice period for expropriation and how is compensation calculated?
The notice process and period for expropriation differ in each jurisdiction, from three to 12 months. If the acquiring authority does not exercise its powers to acquire the land, the notice expires. The compensation offered by the acquiring authority is calculated in accordance with the heads of compensation in the relevant legislation. There is generally a guarantee that this will not be less than the market value. Usually a claim can also be made for disturbance and for an additional solatium payment to residential owners for the disadvantage resulting from relocation. Compensation may also be claimed for business losses and relocation costs in the case of acquisition of commercial property.
What environmental certifications are required for the development of real estate and how are they obtained?
Australian environmental law takes a risk-based approach to environmental certification, meaning that higher-impact developments go through more rigorous environmental approval processes.
State legislation will identify triggers for environmental approvals, which are ordinarily obtained through the development approval process. In other words, a development application will seek not just planning approval, but also the relevant environmental approvals, as separate but related applications to the relevant government agencies.
For example, developing real estate in the vicinity of a riparian waterway may trigger a requirement for environmental agency approval. This approval may be conditional on compliance with certain conditions, such as the imposition of a buffer zone.
A Commonwealth government approval may also be required if there is likely to be an effect on a ‘matter of national environmental significance’. For example, if there is likely to be an effect on a world heritage item such as the Great Barrier Reef then the federal government is required to give its approval to the development.
What environmental disclosure obligations apply to real estate sales?
The conveyancing legislation of each jurisdiction sets out the mandatory disclosure matters for real estate transactions. There is generally no positive obligation to disclose the environmental status of the land in the legislation. Beyond what is set out in legislation, there is no duty for a seller to disclose defects in the property (eg, contamination). However, it is common and recommended practice for the vendor to disclose any environmental issues with the property regardless, as failure to do so can be actionable under the common law or other legislation (eg, trade practices and consumer law legislation) on another basis, such as misrepresentation or misleading conduct. If the vendor chooses not to disclose, it must be aware of pre-contractual representations by its agent and other persons involved in the marketing and sale, and must ensure that it has robust contractual disclaimers to protect it against the risk of a future claim.
What rules and procedures govern environmental clean-up of property? Which parties are responsible for clean-up and what is the extent of their liability?
Land contamination is usually identified and remedied through the development approval process. This is because proposing a change of land use is an appropriate trigger for studying the extent of any existing contamination and the clean-up required to make the land suitable for its proposed use.
Where clean-up of the property is required as a condition of development approval, the party undertaking the development will be responsible for the clean-up.
However, all states have powers to require environmental clean-up of land absent any proposed development if certain significance thresholds are met – usually if there is the risk of off-site migration of contaminants, or if the contamination presents a threat to human health or the environment. In this case, clean-up laws can be onerous on landholders, even if they did not cause the contamination.
Although the ‘polluter pays’ principle generally applies in theory, in practice it is often the landowner which is ultimately responsible for the clean-up costs of historic contamination. The landowner will have a cause of action to recoup these costs from the polluter, if it can be found and a cause of action established. In practice, this is rare.
This is because the legislation is pragmatic and expedient, and does not require the regulator to prove liability at common law before liability for clean-up under the legislation can be imposed.
Development approvals and environmental licences can also impose conditions which require land users to return a site to a particular standard on cessation of the use. For example, a petrol station may be required to decommission underground storage tanks and undertake remediation.
Are there any regulations or incentive schemes in place to promote energy efficiency and emissions reductions in buildings?
The national Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010 (Cth) requires owners of commercial office space with a certain net lettable area to obtain a building energy efficiency certificate and disclose it to prospective tenants and purchasers before leasing or selling the space (as applicable). This certificate provides an energy efficiency rating based on the National Australian Built Environment Rating System, which provides an environmental impact rating for existing buildings. Significant financial penalties apply for non-compliance. For new buildings, the Nationwide Home Energy Rating Scheme demonstrates compliance with the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in the Building Code of Australia for new residential buildings and major alterations and additions to existing buildings.
Notably at state level, New South Wales has adopted an additional scheme for all residential developments (including minor alterations) called the Building Sustainability Index, which requires certification of compliance with benchmarks for water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and thermal performance for developments costing A$50,000 or more.