Buyers now have more protection in off the plan land sales in Queensland

14 February 2024

Queensland laws have changed to give buyers more rights after the date of the sunset date has expired in off the plan land sales.

A sunset date is the latest date by which an event in an off the plan contract must occur, being usually the latest for title registration or contract settlement. The maximum sunset date for the settlement of an off the plan land sale is 18 months but may be less under the terms of a contract of sale.

Prior to the new laws, either the buyer or seller could terminate an off the plan contract if the title registration or contract settlement did not occur by the sunset date. In recent years where there had been substantial increases in land values, many developers (who may have also incurred increases in development costs) were able to terminate off the plan contracts after sunset dates had expired and resell the land for higher prices.

Other jurisdictions such as New South Wales and Victoria introduced laws restricting developer sunset date termination rights several years ago and those laws apply to both land sales and sales of other off the plan properties such as apartments and townhouses.

The new Queensland laws do not extend to sales of lots in community title schemes such as apartments and townhouses and do not apply to the sale of land in small subdivisions of up to 5 lots.

Under the new Queensland laws, which amend the Land Sales Act 1984, a seller will only be able to terminate an off the plan land sale contract after the expiry of the sunset date in one of the following ways:

  1. With buyer consent after giving the buyer written notice at least 28 days before the sunset date explaining why the seller wants to terminate, that they can only do so if the buyer consents, and that the buyer must respond at least 1 day before the sunset date.
  2. With a Supreme Court order, which the court can make after the seller has applied at its cost and has satisfied the court that it is just and equitable to do so, having regard to a number of matters, including the impact on the buyer and the seller, the actions of the buyer and seller (including what steps have already been taken by the seller to settle) and whether settlement is viable at all.
  3. A regulation that permits another way, with regulations only to be made if the Minister is satisfied the prescribed way will provide adequate protection for a buyer.

This means that buyers now have a lot more say when a seller intends to terminate an off the plan land sale contract under the sunset date clauses.

The new laws came into force on 22 November 2023 and apply to all new off the plan land sales contracts and also retrospectively to all existing off the plan land sale contracts not yet settled.

The laws remain unchanged for off the plan sales of properties in a community titles scheme such as apartments or townhouses with a body corporate. For those sales, either the buyer or seller can terminate a contract after the sunset date if settlement does not occur by that date. The maximum sunset date for the settlement of an off the plan community titled property is 3.5 years but may be up to 5.5 years under the terms of a contract of sale.

The laws surrounding off the plan contracts are different in every state and territory in Australia so it is important when buying off the plan that you engage a law firm like lawlab that specialises in property law and conveyancing in each and every jurisdiction in Australia.

Disclaimer This information is general in nature only and does not constitute legal advice. Lawlab accepts no liability for the content of this information. You should obtain legal advice specific to your individual circumstances. Lawlab’s liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
Catherine Fricker
Catherine Fricker
Legal Advisor

Catherine is a knowledgeable and committed lawyer and is currently the Service Delivery Manager of lawlab. Catherine is committed to providing excellent service to lawlab’s clients and legal support and training to our team. Catherine loves to travel and go to the theatre as well as being an animal lover, spending as much time as she can with her dog.

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