Last updated 16 August 2016
The period between the date of the contract and the date set down for settlement is usually 30 days for a residential contract. However, this time period may be increased or reduced according to the requirements of the parties. A buyer should be reluctant to agree to any shorter period of time unless confident that they will have adequate time to receive the results of their searches.
Before settlement, buyers should conduct searches to satisfy themselves that good title will be provided on settlement. Buyers should also prepare for settlement itself.
As soon as possible, a search of the property should be done at the Department of Natural Resources and Mines to see what mortgages or other encumbrances (e.g. easements) are registered in relation to the land and to confirm that the description of the land is properly recorded on the contract. A photocopy of the registered plan of the land may be obtained to ensure that the block of land being purchased is in fact what was inspected, and that its dimensions are correctly described in the contract.
After the land title searches are completed, the buyer should also carry out searches to find out further information about the property being purchased. The local authority is the best source of information and will provide particulars regarding:
- the amount of rates payable on the property and whether or not they are paid up
- the zoning or the use of land
- sewerage and drainage plans for the property
- any requirements for work to be done on the land
- past flooding of the land
- approvals for building improvements.
The Office of State Revenue will advise on the current position of land tax payable on the land or confirm that none is payable.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads will advise of future development, current proposal and resumption information, and any current proposals or future intentions for roads.
A search of the Supreme and District Court registers and the Bankruptcy register will indicate if certain termination rights may be available under the contract.
Depending upon the location and characteristics of the property, a number of other searches may need to be undertaken. For example:
- a survey to identify the boundaries of the land, the area and location of improvements
- Queensland Rail, to make sure there are no proposed railway lines for the property
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission
- Environmental Protection Agency, to determine if the property is on the Environmental Management register and the Contaminated Land register
- Energex and Ergon
- Queensland Building and Construction Commission
- Personal Property Securities Register (where personal property is included in the sale)
- QCAT search for tree applications or orders under the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 (Qld)
- Pool Safety register
- Heritage register
- Mining Tenures
- Body corporate records and body corporate orders (the conveyancing of a lot in a community title scheme is considered separately later in this chapter).
The forms for these various searches would usually be available from the authority to which enquiries are being directed. They should also be part of any standard conveyancing kit.